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 Mining In Wisconsin

Katey Beckman, 20, and her sister Jessica, 12, of Ironwood, Mich. look for family members on a giant mural in downtown Ironwood, across the border from Hurley, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The mural depicts the faces of men who served the area mines. Decades after the last mine shut down and ended a period of incredible growth for the Wisconsin city, locals pitched in to pay for a mural memorializing miners from Hurley and its twin city of Ironwood, Mich. Sharon Cekada / The Post-Crescent




Timeline: Iron ore mining in northern Wisconsin

» 1880s: Mass iron ore mining begins in the Gogebic Iron Range of Michigan and Wisconsin.

» 1962: Montreal Mine at Montreal in Iron County closes.

» 1965: Final shipment of iron ore mined from the Gogebic Range leaves the Cary Mine near Hurley. The Cary Mine and the Montreal Mine together produced 45 millions tons of iron ore during operation.

» 2010: Gogebic Taconite begins research of property in Iron and Ashland counties.

» January 2011: Gogebic Taconite opens office in Hurley.

» March 15, 2011: Gogebic Taconite asks for permission to explore area from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Drilling never begins.

» Dec. 14, 2011: Bill making changes to permit process introduced.

» Jan. 26, 2012: Bill passes Assembly, 59-36.

» Feb. 2, 2012: Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch and Republican Sen. Dale Schultz announce compromise amendment.

» Feb. 15, 2012: Bill moves to Legislature’s powerful Joint Committee on Finance, where it is approved and moves to Senate.

» March 6, 2012: Bill fails Senate vote, 16-17, with Schultz voting no. Gogebic Taconite ends project.

Sources: Wisconsin Historical Society, history record of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 426, Gogebic Taconite. The Associated Press contributed.

By the numbers

When Gogebic Taconite began pursuing an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, the numbers grabbed both supporters and opponents.

» 700: mining jobs created in the first 30 years of operation

$1.4: billions of dollars of tax revenue a mine would generate for local and state government over that time

» 2,100: number of related jobs created statewide

» 1,000: feet deep at the deepest point of a mine

» 22: miles wide the pit mine would be after 90 or more years of work

» 22,000: acres of potential iron ore deposits

Sources: Gogebic Taconite preliminary tax impact study

About This Report

Interest in mining iron from Wisconsin’s Northwoods sparked a divisive battle starting in 2011 in Madison and the cities and towns closest to a 22-mile long mine in Iron and Ashland counties.

Proponents fear their communities will fade away without an economic boost that mining promises for their towns and schools. Opponents worry a new mine in northern Wisconsin will cause significant environmental damage, especially to the many streams in the area that feed into rivers and Lake Superior.

Gannett Wisconsin Media reporters and photographers have reported on the issue from the start, spending time with people who believe a mine will bring change for better and worse to their lives and those in other states already living close to operating iron mines. Our reports, videos and photos are collected here.

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