Environment Magazine

Test Drilling Disrupted at Penokee Hills Proposed Mining Site

Posted on the 14 June 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

The following is an anonymous communique from the June 11 action. Read below the communique to find out how you can get involved.

by some wild coyotes / Wisconsin Anarchy

Hurley Police and Iron County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the site after receiving a call from Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk.  Credit Danielle Kaeding, WRNC

Hurley Police and Iron County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the site after receiving a call from Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk. Credit Danielle Kaeding, WRNC

On Tuesday, June 11th, some wild ones awoke to the sound of a drill rig and flatbed trucks driving up the ridge of the Penokee Hills in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Idea Drilling LLC were attempting to drill the first of eight core samples that would be used to determine the quality and quantity of iron ore in a 22-mile long stretch of the Penokee Hills, slated for open-pit mining destruction by Gogebic Taconite. Forty percent of Lake Superior’s wetlands lie downstream from the Penokee Hills, as does the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation, whose members depend on healthy waterways for their wild rice and fish. Surely, the amount of waste rock present in this type of mining would result in sulfides and heavy metal pollutants being exposed to these precious waterways downstream and would change the land that human and non-human lives depend on for survival forever. Making the preliminary stages of this mine as expensive as possible to send a clear message to financiers that this is an extremely risky investment is one strategy that was being pursued in the following action.

Wearing t-shirts and bandannas for masks, about fifteen wild ones sprang into action, added their own lock and chain to the gated entrance and built several barricades out of small boulders and downed trees. This was done on the access road in order to delay the anticipated police response for what was to happen. Once arriving to the site where the drill workers and managing geologist were, folks took the space over for about an hour. They jumped on trucks and the collection tank and threw pieces of equipment like pickaxes, fire extinguishers, and shovels down the hillside into the thick of the woods. Fences were knocked over and broken and personal cigarettes were raided out of one of the company vehicles as workers and the manager stood in awe. When it was discovered that the manager was taping all of this for evidence, their camera was snatched, broken, and thrown into the woods. Minutes later, a smart phone was snatched for the same reason and it met a similar fate.

At this point, some of the workers escaped the site in a company vehicle in order to find reception to call the police, because cell phones and CB radios do not work once you are on top of the ridge. We stayed about 10-15 minutes longer, but then decided to leave in order to avoid arrests. We disappeared into the woods and were able to outwit and outrun sheriff deputies on ATV’s because we know the terrain better than they do. We were able to inflict damages upon the company in the form of an entire day of labor costs through the disturbance and subsequent police reports that their workers had to spend their shift doing, as well as shatter their sense of security.

Another outcome of the protest is that Gogebic Taconite will be forced to hire private security for the company contracted to do exploratory drilling in the Penokee Range. Ashland and Iron County sheriff’s deputies were on the scene Tuesday, but Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan said they can’t afford to staff the drill site 24/7, so that kind of security is up to the mining company.

May the costs continue to be imposed and may the security guards and mining managers cower in fear.

-some wild coyotes

Visit the Penokee Hills Mine Site

by Carl Sack, adapted by Bruce Noble, Madison Action for Mining Alternatives

Need some summer time action?  Get some fresh air, fish in a Class II trout stream and help STOP an open-pit iron mine.

The Lac Courte Orielles Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe has received an Iron County conditional use permit for a 5 acre piece of land near the site of Gogebic Taconite’s (GTac) proposed open-pit mine and the Penokee Hills  “ghost towns” of Moore and Plummer, WI.  On May 30, the Wisconsin DNR approved a permit for GTac to do exploratory drilling at eight sites.  GTac is expected to begin drilling on Saturday, June 8. So, now is an important time to witness the company’s activities as well as gather archeological evidence and endangered species sightings that may be useful for halting the mining activity in court.  Come relax in the woods while giving your vacation a PURPOSE.

The Lac Courte Orielles have named their adventure the Harvest and Education Camp.  Many primitive campsites are available with easy access from Hurley and Ashland.  All are welcome from a few hours to several days or weeks.  Try the pan-fried walleye, great conversation and a chance to explore impressive archeological sites scattered along the forested ridge west of the Tyler Forks River.

The Camp is located off State Highway 77 that runs between Hurley and Mellen. Look for Moore Park Road, west of Upson and seven miles east of Mellen – if you’re traveling west from Hurley you know you’ve overshot the mark by about one-half mile if you cross from Iron into Ashland County.  More about the camp can be found at

http://www.unitedindefenseofthewater.com   

Feel free to contact Bruce Noble a [email protected]


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