G-Tac's Pre-application Notice

On June 17, along with a Bulk Sample Plan, G-Tac submitted a mining Pre-Application Notice required by Wisconsin State Statutes. Critiques of the notice are below.

  • On Page 7, under 295.46{1){b)(6} The elevation of the water table, the company claims: "Information on groundwater elevations is sparse. Groundwater well data is not readily available due to the lack of population nearby." This statement is not true. The O'Dovero Farm, practically across the street from the mine site, obtains the water for their family home and dairy/beef operation from a private well at least 150 feet deep. As a commercial farming operation, they certainly must have their water tested on a regular basis, and I'm sure they would have been happy to provide any data they have to the DNR or to G-Tac, especially given how concerned the family is about the mine causing their well to dry up. There are other farms and homes within a few miles of the mine site that also have wells. Whether G-Tac bothered to do any outreach to these property owners is highly suspect. Further, the USGS has done groundwater characterization, including slope and depth, for the Penokee Hills and basin to the north on a series of maps which are available at the University of Wisconsin Geology Library in Weeks Hall on the Madison Campus. I know because I have personally checked these materials out for my independent research.
  • In all discussion of water use and stormwater discharge, there is no mention of the need for wastewater treatment or how the documented presence of sulfides and phosphates will be dealt with to prevent acid mine drainage and eutrophication of local waterways. There is very little mention throughout the application of any of the myriad of environmental concerns with the mine raised by scientists. There is no mention of whether or not the company will try to avoid filling wetlands and navigable waters. There is no mention of how groundwater drawdown or contamination would be addressed. There is no mention of the setback of the pit, waste rock, or tailings from waterways. There is no mention of dust control measures during blasting. There is no mention of the hours of operation of blasting or mining activity. There is no mention of how the company would respond to environmental damage or public health issues during operations.
  • G-Tac claims on page 11 that "the water supply may be sourced onsite from storm water and pit water stored with the drainage control system," and off-site water sources "would be investigated" if needed. This statement obscures the fact that the company has already signed a deal with Ironwood to pipe 1.2 million gallons of water a day to the mine site. There is no question as to whether they will be using outside water sources, and that amount of water withdrawl from the Lake Superior Watershed should be cause for concern under the Great Lakes Compact.
  • The company plans to use dry-stacking of mine waste with mechanical dewatering. This method of waste storage has never been used at comparable mines in Minnesota or Michigan, and is therefore untested under the environmental conditions of the area. The possible presence of asbestiform fibers in the iron deposit makes this of particular concern, since wind could pick up dry-stacked particles as dust and contaminate the air for workers and local communities.