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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:17 AM

Upper Peninsula pits offer perspective on Wisconsin mine proposal (old but pertinent article)

http://m.jsonline.com/topstories/133308968.htm

Nov. 5, 2011 | (149) Comments

Ishpeming, Mich. - The Empire Mine is big and deep, spanning a mile across and plunging 1,200 feet to its lowest point.

Trucks that carry rock from the depths of the iron ore mine are the size of two-story houses and burn 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel a day.

The electric bill from this massive mining complex in the Upper Peninsula is bigger than the Milwaukee Brewers' 2011 payroll.

"It's all about scale in the iron ore business," observed Terry S. Reynolds, a historian at Michigan Tech and an expert on the state's iron ore industry.

As Wisconsin debates a return to iron ore mining for the first time in nearly 30 years, the Empire and adjacent Tilden mines offer a window into how the industry operates today.

The high-grade iron ore that drew immigrants to this region in the mid- to late 1800s played out long ago.

"There are probably still people who think we are out here with picks and shovels and mules and wooden carts," said Dale Hemmila, the manager of corporate affairs in North America for Cliffs Natural Resources, based in Cleveland and the principal owner of the mine.

"But the fact of the matter is, this is a very, very sophisticated operation," he said.

Now, iron ore mines need to be enormous to justify the expense of excavating and processing mountains of low-grade rock.

Empire and Tilden operations employ 1,800 workers and produce about 13 million tons of iron ore a year at full capacity. After separating the waste rock, it takes 3 tons of iron ore to produce 1 ton of ore pellets - the staple of making steel.

"To make a profit, any mine has to be able to handle very large volumes," said Reynolds, the co-author of "Iron Will: Cleveland-Cliffs and the Mining of Iron Ore, 1847-2006."

In Wisconsin, Gogebic Taconite has proposed a $1.5 billion mine along state Highway 77 in an undeveloped area that would straddle Iron and Ashland counties.

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Reply Upper Peninsula pits offer perspective on Wisconsin mine proposal (old but pertinent article) (Original post)
hue Jan 2013 OP
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #1
ewagner Jan 2013 #2
Scuba Jan 2013 #3


Response to hue (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:31 AM

2. "...a different kettle of fish."

Sulfide mining is "a different kettle of fish" from the Michigan operation, but the environmental impact of a pit 1000 feet deep on one side and 700 feet deep on the other and four miles long is devastating in itself....

Thanks so much for posting this...the article has been forwarded to local legislators.

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Response to hue (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:48 AM

3. K&R

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