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Mine Regulations: Not Tough Enough?

One mining specialist is questioning whether a proposed iron mine in the Penokee range has enough social support to go forward. 

John Coleman is an environmental section leader at Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, a group that helps enforce tribal treaty rights in Wisconsin.  Coleman has worked primarily on mining issues since 1994, when a mine proposed near Crandon faced tribal opposition.  

Coleman thinks state regulators aren’t as tough as they were in the nineties.

“These days, there’s no state regulator playing hardball with mining companies. When it comes to mining – there’s an effort to get along, and be as friendly as possible to the mining companies. And I think a lot of people resent that.”

Coleman is skeptical the project will come to fruition, given what he sees as a growing lack of public support, plus environmental hurdles.

“The metal prices don’t support that project, the environment doesn’t support that project. The geology makes it difficult. And now I don’t think there’s social support for it.

Coleman spoke at an event marking 10 years since the Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa and Forest County Potawatomi tribes bought the land once slated for a copper mine.  

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