To the Editor:
I attended the county board meeting last August where the board voted 9-12 against pursuing mining. I don’t recall the meeting being described as about the future of mining in Oneida County, rather it was an opportunity for anyone to speak about the prospect of new drilling and maybe eventual mining of the Lynne deposit.
So I believe the board’s decision (even if by default) to not eliminate the mining committee is a good decision.
There were some aspects of the August meeting that troubled me:
Clearly, the meeting was mainly attended by folks living near the Lynne deposit or feeling they had some significant attachment to that area. They did not represent or speak for all 35,000 people of Oneida County. Unfortunately, a vocal minority often ends up speaking for the majority who may have a different view but don’t participate.
There seemed to be no understanding by nearly any of the speakers of the multi-step-with-approval process required for mining projects.
Most of the speakers seemed to think the process automatically went from ore body drilling to mining operations.
For nearly all the speakers there was no interest in better understanding the site. Without benefit of any site study many speakers still readily described how mining would impact the area. An environmental impact study would determine if any mine could be sited without violating our environmental laws. Jobs are created and large amounts of money are spent just doing the baseline and environmental study.
When one of the speakers called the board members “bullies” I thought if anyone was bullied at the meeting it was the board and the few people who might have said something positive about mining but then remained silent.
You don’t have to look far in Wisconsin to find either positive or no impacts from mining of a sulfide ore body (being fair and objective). Rusk County received over $10 million (not including royalties) from the Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith. There are still non-mine-related jobs because of their wise use of the money.
Tourism increased because of the mine.
The fish, crayfish, sediments, and water of the Flambeau River 140 feet away are fine.
Runoff from the mine site was cleaner than residential city street runoff.
Elevated groundwater concentrations near the mine are not violations.
No wells have gone bad, no wells have been replaced, and no one is drinking bad water. There has been no acid mine drainage from this sulfide mine.
Those are actual results from a real mine, not imagined results based on an ore body with little or no study and planning.
Most people in the Northwoods understand how hard it is to grow the economy here and especially to grow it with industry and good jobs. There are not many opportunities for that so I think it is very short-sighted and selfish to reject a potential mining project without the benefit of any substantial study.