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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 10:52 AM 

GTAC grilled on job potential, hearings, need for environmental regs

Representatives from Gogebic Taconite said the mining company would focus on Wisconsin workers and would pay for most of the infrastructure surrounding the mine.

Bob Seitz, a spokesman for the company, said GTAC plans to pay to build its own roads, water, natural gas lines, rail lines and "would provide their own EMS and fire services."

In addition, Seitz expressed incredulity at a question about whether Wisconsin workers would be hired instead of mining professionals from around the country, saying the company prefers to train the workers in the area.

"If you were to bring in workers from someplace else that didn't get 30 inches of snow, that didn't have solid weeks below zero, you'd be paying to train a lot of people that wouldn't stick around very long," Seitz said.

Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, asked why the company did not proceed with exploratory drilling to see the composition of the minerals in the Penokee Hills. Seitz said that taking on something like exploration itself could result in a huge investment and that the company didn't want to proceed without some certainty about the process. However, GTAC engineer Tim Myers said he believed a study from Lawrence University at least indicated the area is mostly ferrous rock.

Seitz also said the company did find all the changes to more specific aspects of the permitting process -- such as the waste sites boundaries and regulations on disposing of waste -- were needed to give certainty to the process.

Rep. Tod Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, also asked the company whether they believe there should be more hearings on the measure. Seitz said that while they're happy to meet with any legislators and offer their comments when needed, he also pointed out that most of the hearings they've had up to this point have lasted at least nine hours.

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