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Mining company scraps northwoods plans


UNDATED (WSAU) Gogebic Taconite says it will not build its proposed iron ore mine, after the state Senate rejected a compromise late yesterday that could have paved the way for the project. The vote was 17-to-16 against a package that would have speeded up the state’s process for approving iron ore mines like the one planned for the Hurley area.

Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz joined all 16 Democrats in voting no.

Gogebic Taconite president Bill Williams said the vote sends, quote, “a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message.” Company lobbyist Bob Seitz said the statement was not a negotiating ploy, saying quote, “That’s done.” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said quote, “We let something slip away.” He was referring to the 700-plus permanent jobs the mine would have created.

Republican Governor Scott Walker campaigned for the bill’s approval this past week at a Milwaukee mining equipment plant and other Wisconsin suppliers that would have benefited from Gogebic’s project. And Walker left the door open last night, saying he’d call a special session if a deal could not be found by the time the regular session ends next Thursday. But Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald said it would be hard to round up votes now, especially because the upcoming recall elections could further politicize what’s already a contentious issue.

Schultz, the Senate’s most moderate Republican, said he could not support a mining bill that could damage the environment, and end the public’s ability to challenge individual D-N-R decisions before a permit is issued.