Mining company might restrict public access

2013-07-09T07:30:00Z Mining company might restrict public accessJACK CRAVER | The Capital Times |

While progressives respond with outrage to photos of armed guards patrolling a proposed iron mining site in northern Wisconsin, the mining company that hired the guards suggests it may move to prevent protesters from coming on to the land at all, as they are currently allowed.

Bob Seitz, director of external relations for Gogebic Taconite, the Florida-based mining company that is seeking approval for an iron mine near Hurley, says the company is considering removing the land it plans to develop from the Wisconsin Managed Forest program, which offers tax incentives to property owners who open their land to public access.

To withdrawal from the program, says Seitz, the company would have to apply at the end of this year and would be able to begin restricting public access in January of next year.

"It would be an option for us in December," he says.

The company did not seek withdrawal from the program last year, he says, because the legislature still had not yet approved the controversial mining bill, which the company insisted was necessary to go forward with the project.

Until then, the armed guards appear likely to stay. After an incident last month in which a group of protesters vandalized company equipment and took an employee's phone, Seitz says the company is more than justified in stationing masked guards with assault rifles on the site.

"Well the people who came in to our drill site were all dressed in black and wearing masks," he says. "We're trying to take the responsible precautions."

He would not specify how many guards the company had hired or how long they plan to be there.

"Because the violent protestors don’t share their plans with us, I don’t share our plans with them," he says.

Diplomacy has never been Gogebic's preferred mode of advocacy. Last year, the company announced it was leaving the state after the Senate — which Republicans then controlled by only a one seat margin — failed to come to an agreement on the mining bill. And in an interview in February, shortly before the bill was finally passed, company president Bill Williams described opponents of the bill as "BANANAS," (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything).

Blog posts reacting to the photos of the guards see them as another piece of evidence that the company is corrupt, reactionary and utterly contemptuous to local people and their concerns.


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(18) Comments

  1. ktruth
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    ktruth - July 10, 2013 6:31 am
    Glad they are not union thugs protecting the facility.
  2. bookman21
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    bookman21 - July 09, 2013 10:53 pm
    The right has gone too far taking away women's rights, destroying unions, disenfranchising voters, restricting free speech and pillaging the middle class.
  3. bookman21
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    bookman21 - July 09, 2013 10:49 pm
    The guards who are armed with assault rifles are wearing masks and the public will not be allowed on the property. What are they trying to hide?
  4. ThreadKiller
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    ThreadKiller - July 09, 2013 5:30 pm
    Perhaps you would like to comment on Wisconsin news. What's Obama got to do with this mine? You republicans, (small r intended), are all the same.
  5. bananahammock
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    bananahammock - July 09, 2013 12:52 pm
    How is a mask illegal? Do you have any idea how bad the mosquitoes and horse flies might be up there this time if year? Also, is it illegal for skiers to wear masks in the dead of winter? Ice-fisherman? Turkey hunters? It's just a mask. Check out this idea: Don't mess with the companies assets and you have absolutely nothing to fear.
  6. bananahammock
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    bananahammock - July 09, 2013 12:43 pm
    Right wiisgreat007, nothing ever escalates...
    Pay attention to 2001 with Wisconsin native Ian Wallace trying to blow up a building.

    I find it funny that a protester didn't like being videotaped. I guess she forgot her own camera like many protesters like to use to get anything they can on file against a firm. It goes both ways my friend.

    These are professional security guards who aren't out to do anything but protect the the assets of their contract holder. Just because they carry rifles doesn't mean they have to use them. It's a last resort. Again, I urge you to consider escalation of organizations such as ELF. These men have the right to defend themselves against people like Wallace who was planting what is now considered and IED for crying out loud.
  7. ObbieZ
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    ObbieZ - July 09, 2013 10:35 am
    I don't understand why every news story on this issue includes a picture of a thug without a mask. THESE THUGS ARE ALL WEARING MASKS! I can't see how that's legal.

    And I think the AP, Wisc. State Journal, Chippewa Herald, La Crosse Tribune, Cap Times and every other paper that publishes this same picture is being deceptive by omission. It is the ONLY picture I have seen where the security thug is not wearing a mask.

    More accurate pictures are at
  8. toobad
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    toobad - July 09, 2013 9:52 am
    Just like the transparency of the 0bama administration
  9. dakref
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    dakref - July 09, 2013 9:32 am
    Since when do they "own" the land? Maybe you should educate yourself about the situation first before making your low input comments.
  10. johnnn
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    johnnn - July 09, 2013 9:27 am
    They will probably find a way to only pay back taxes on the few square feet that their equipment occupies, while blocking access to the entire tract.
  11. johnnn
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    johnnn - July 09, 2013 9:26 am
    daddy, Is your property in the Wisconsin Managed Forest program? If so, you cannot legally keep people off of it. If not, comparing your land to the mine site is an apples to oranges comparison. Please get educated on the issues.
  12. johnnn
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    johnnn - July 09, 2013 9:18 am
    kt - It sounds like you are describing the Department of Administration in going 'to" far when their little minds said $7.5 million worth of damage was done to the capital by protesters.
  13. Aprilcomma
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    Aprilcomma - July 09, 2013 8:58 am
    Removal of the land from the MFL program requires that they pay the back taxes they saved by having the land enrolled. Unfortunately, it is a safe bet the current DNR Secretary overlook that. When the legislators supporting this bragged up jobs, who knew they were talking about jobs for hired thugs from Arizona?
  14. everclear
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    everclear - July 09, 2013 8:41 am
    Hope you will enjoy your trip in future years to the former Copper Falls, will soon be named Copper Canyon, takes lots of water for mining.
  15. wiisgreat007
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    wiisgreat007 - July 09, 2013 8:34 am
    The so called eco-terrorist was a 20 something female from Steven's Point about 200 miles away, was turned in by the local environmentalists, was arrested and charged. Bringing in military security force for a fight over a camera phone is hardly going to win local support, who already overwhelmingly voted for the two local politicians who are bringing the complaint to the mining company. So, NO the locals don't want the out of state mining company destroying their local lakes, rivers and drinking water.
  16. toobad
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    toobad - July 09, 2013 8:24 am
    Wow, that private business is protected from the public like government buildings are.
  17. ktruth
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    ktruth - July 09, 2013 8:05 am
    Glad they are taking steps to protect their assets from eco- terrorist. The left can go to far when they get something in their little minds.
  18. Mike123
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    Mike123 - July 09, 2013 7:58 am
    This is typical. Just like Republicans did in secretive late night meetings, this company wants no discourse or public input into exactly what they are doing.
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