South Milwaukee Rep. Mark Honadel has taken an interest in mining … and with his district being home to the world’s largest mining equipment manufacturer, it makes perfect sense.
But is what he’s proposing the right thing to do?
Honadel was quoted extensively in a story on Friday about two proposed, and controversial, mines in northern Wisconsin. One would mine iron ore near the tiny Ashland County town of Mellen, and the other is a gold mine near Wausau.
From the Small Business Times article:
A report released recently by Madison-based NorthStar Economics Inc. estimates the iron ore mine would create 3,175 jobs a year over a two-year period just to build it. Once the mine begins operating it would support 2,834 jobs in a 12-county region, including 700 mining jobs, the NorthStar report says. The total economic impact from the mine’s operations would be $604 million a year, the report says.
“This is such a good thing for Wisconsin,” said state Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, who plans to introduce legislation to change the approval process for iron ore mines. “It’s going to be great for our state.”
Honadel plans to introduce a bill that would make it easier for iron ore mines, such as the one planned by Gogebic Taconite, to be approved. Iron ore mines should be reviewed in a separate process from how sulfide mine proposals, such as the possible gold mine near Wausau, are reviewed, he said. …
“Having only one set of standards (for all metallic mines) in the state really hinders Wisconsin from becoming a mover and a shaker in the iron ore mining industry,” he said. “If a (mining) company knows there is solid legislation in place and it’s fair for everybody, then they have peace of mind to still invest in Wisconsin.”
Honadel said most of his bill, which will be introduced soon, contains existing DNR regulations for mines.
“We want to keep our good air, water and wetland stuff in place,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am for this bill.”
Honadel said a major reason he is interested in the iron ore mine proposal, which is located far from his district, is because South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International Inc. plans to sell equipment for the mine.
The economic benefit the state would receive from an iron ore mine would be significant, Honadel said. Bucyrus, which is being acquired by Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc., is just one of several companies in the state that could benefit, he said.
“This is going to be in place for a couple of generations of good family-supporting jobs,” Honadel said. “Mills could pop up to process the iron ore. This is going to be a huge, huge deal.”
Of course, not everyone is so enamored with the prospect of the two mines, especially the iron ore mine, nor the potential legislation, which, like the rest of Madison Republicans’ agenda these days, is being fast-tracked.
There are indeed serious environmental concerns with the mines and the prospect of speeding up the review process. This includes potential language in the Senate version of the bill that would reportedly (and amazingly, if true) state that mining permit applicants no longer would be “required to include a risk assessment of accidental health or environmental hazards potentially associated with the mining operations.” That is according to a draft copy of the bill obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio.
I’ll keep you posted on this issue.
In the meantime, I’d like to know what you think. Post your comments below!