Whereas, Oneida County is an extremely water rich part of Wisconsin, with over 1,100 lakes, and with nearly 38% of its surface comprised of lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands, totaling over 463 square miles, and
Whereas, there are three known sulfide deposits in Oneida County that are associated with ancient rock formations of volcanic origin, and
Whereas, sulfide deposits contain minerals that are compounds of metal and sulfur, and the process of mining these deposits creates an enormous amount of waste material, when exposed to air and water, create a condition, know as Acid Mine Drainage, that leaches metals from the surrounding environment, and remain a threat to the water resource for hundreds of years, and
Whereas, in Oneida County, these ancient deposits were buried under thick layers of glacial drift and water when the glaciers receded, and
Whereas, our lakes, streams, and wetlands are intimately connected to the water contained in this glacial material, and In order to keep a sulfide mining operation reasonably dry, the pumping required would reduce lake and water well levels, reduce stream flows, and impair wetland function, and
Whereas, more than 62% of Oneida County voters opposed a sulfide mine upstream of the Willow Flowage, which is of great county, Tribal, and regional significance, and
Whereas, Badger Minerals is planning to conduct exploratory drillings for sulfide minerals, at the Wolf River Deposit, near the upper Wolf River, which is also of great county, Tribal, and regional significance, and
Whereas, the water resources of Oneida County are of profound importance, providing many people that live and work here with sustenance, for generations, from our incredible fisheries, and many others that benefit economically from the folks that come from far and wide to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Northwoods, and
Whereas, the repeal of the Mining Moratorium Law, known as Act 134, eliminates the “Prove it first” provision from the metallic mining law, and also makes groundwater standards non-applicable in certain areas, weakens wetland protections, streamlines approval of bulk sampling, shortens the timeline for review of mine permits, weakens the criteria for the approval of high capacity wells, weakens the public process for the approval of mine permits, eliminates solid waste disposal fees, limits the timeline for predictive modeling, and limits the timeframe to maintain an irrevocable trust for preventative and remedial activities, and
Whereas, the future of Oneida County depends on keeping our water clean and protecting our lakes, streams, and wetlands.
Now therefore be it resolved that the following Towns, Lake Associations, and Sportfishing groups consider sulfide mining to be incompatible with the goals stated above, and ask the Wisconsin State Legislature to repeal Wisconsin 2017 Act 134.
June 18, 2020
Stockley Creek is a tributary to the nearby Wolf River
in the Headwaters area of the Wolf River, Oneida County,
an area of Class 1 Trout Streams with cold clean water.
To find it, take Brown’s Road entrance off Hwy 8, between Crandon and Rhinelander,
to the Managed Forest Law Program Land (MFL)
Metallic Sulfide Mining Exploration Project Site --
referred to as ‘Schoepke Site’ on the DNR website.
The location of this creek is in the center of the exploration area.
It would also be the center of the open-pit metallic sulfide mine,
should one be developed here.
Is sulfide mining really safe? This short video may help you decide whether it's right or not for your community.
HOW MINING COMPANIES ARE CONTAMINATING OUR NATION’S WATERS IN PERPETUITY, 2013, Earthworks.org (Case studies of current and closed mines requiring perpetual water treatment for acid mine drainage)
Jennings, S.R., Neuman, D.R. and Blicker, P.S., 2008. “Acid Mine Drainage and Effects on Fish Health and Ecology: A Review”. Reclamation Research Group Publication, Bozeman, MT.
The track record of water quality impacts resulting from pipeline spills, tailings failures and water collection and treatment failures.
Gestring, Bonnie, EARTHWORKS, 2012
A Comparative Analysis of Sulfide Mining Regulation in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario
March 2012, National Wildlife Federation
(Note that this study was published prior to WI 2017 Act 134 that deregulated numerous aspects of metallic mining law including repeal of the Prove It First (“moratorium”) law.)
Treaty rights and Native American cultural issues
SURFACE WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF THE FLAMBEAU MINE SITE
WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 2012
(Note that this paper is the supporting document for the DNR recommendation to EPA that Stream C be designated as impaired. The EPA concurred and designated Stream C as impaired due to zinc and copper pollution in 2012. The DNR no longer has this paper archived online.)
Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock Mines: The reliability of predictions in Environmental Impact Statements (case studies of twenty-five U.S. mines including the Flambeau mine)
Kuipers, J.R., Maest, A.S., MacHardy, K.A., and Lawson, G., 2006
Deer Tail Scientific
Duluth, Minnesota deertailscientific.wordpress.com
A new report reviewing mining industry practices at the now-closed Flambeau Mine1 near Ladysmith, Wiscon- sin exposes how crucial environmental monitoring data have been withheld from the public. The Flambeau Mine, considered state of the art by today’s standards, has been promoted by supporters of the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects in Minnesota as an example of a copper mine that operated “without polluting local waters.” Similar claims have been made by proponents of the Back Forty project on the Michigan/ Wisconsin border, the Eagle and Copperwood projects in Michigan, the GTac, Bend and Reef projects in Wisconsin, and the Pebble project in Alaska. It’s as if the Flambeau Mine has become the industry’s calling card.2
The primary author of the report, the late Dr. Robert E. Moran (Michael-Moran Associates, Golden, CO; remwater.org)3, reviewed thousands of pages of historical and modern Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) documents and concluded the following in his 116-page report, Flambeau Mine: Water Contamination and Selective “Alternative Facts” 4 (available online at https://deertailscientific.wordpress.com/moran-report/):
“For decades, some of the most relevant data and the most significant water-related impacts at the Flambeau Mine site have been withheld from public view.”
It's unclear if some of the crucial data Dr. Moran sought but found missing in the FMC reports had indeed been collected by the company and simply not made public, or if the company, realizing the data might prove problematic for them, never collected it to begin with (i.e., Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell).
One thing is clear though: Dr. Moran, with his more than 45 years of domestic and international experience in conducting and managing water quality, geochemical and hydrogeologic work for private investors, industrial clients, tribal and citizens groups, NGO’s, law firms, and governmental agencies at all levels, identified numerous deficiencies in the environmental monitoring program at Flambeau. He summed it up like this:
“I know of no metal-sulfide mines anywhere in the world that have operated without degrading the original water quality, long-term – even those employing modern technologies. Given this historical reality, FMC’s approach has been to ensure that damaging data have not been made public.”
Following are some of the major problems identified by Dr. Moran in his report:
“The narrative ‘predictions’ made by FMC’s main Wisconsin consultant in the various permit-related and Annual Reports appear to be largely naïve geochemically and hydrogeologically ... most useful for obtaining permits, less so for generating quantitatively-reliable predictions.”
Foth also consults for PolyMet and Twin Metals in Minnesota and has been involved in drafting permit- related documents for the Back Forty, Copperwood and Eagle projects in Michigan.
After his thorough review of FMC documents, Dr. Moran concluded his report with the following comment:
“In short, the Flambeau Mine is the poster child for a severely-flawed permitting and oversight process that has likely generated long-term public liabilities.”
He added: “Flambeau ground and surface water quality is being and has been degraded—despite years of industry public relations statements touting the success of the FMC operation. Rio Tinto said in a 2013 public relations (PR) release regarding the Flambeau Mine: ‘Testing shows conclusively that groundwater quality surrounding the site is as good as it was before mining.’ In efforts to encourage development of the other metal-sulfide deposits in northern Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region, the industry approach has been to simply repeat this false statement over and over, assuming that repetition will make it believed. Unfortunately, the FMC data show otherwise.”
To read Dr. Moran’s report in its entirety and for a summary of the key findings, go to:
For more information, please contact Deer Tail Scientific5 at email@example.com or visit our website at deertailscientific.wordpress.com/.
1. The Flambeau Mine, a Rio Tinto/Kennecott project, was a small open pit copper-sulfide mine that operated near Ladysmith, Wisconsin in the mid-1990s. The project was controversial, in part due to the close proximity of the 32-acre pit to the Flambeau River (a 140-foot separation). When production ceased in 1997, the Flambeau pit was backfilled with waste rock, some of it amended with limestone. No tailings are stored at the site, since all ore was shipped by rail to Canada for processing. Yet the site groundwaters are contaminated, and “these waters would require expensive, active water treatment to be made suitable for most foreseeable uses” (Moran, 2019). Environmental monitoring, included as part of the owner’s long-term care responsibilities under Wisconsin law, is expected to continue through at least 2047 (40 years following the 2007 certification of the completion of pit reclamation activities), but state regulations also include a provision allowing for potential early termination of the responsibility.
2. To see a letter and “fact sheet” featuring the Flambeau Mine that was sent to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and all Minnesota lawmakers by Mining Minnesota (a mining trade association) in September 2013, go to: https://deertailscientific.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/flambeau-promotionals.pdf. Flambeau-related promotional materials circulated by others (Rio Tinto, Foth, Twin Metals, Aquila Resources, Wisconsin Mining Association, Pebble Partner- ship, Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company, etc.) are also posted.
3. This project was undertaken by hydrogeologist Robert E. Moran (Michael-Moran Associates, Golden, CO; remwater.org) in February 2017. He published a summary of his initial findings in April 2017 (https://remwater.org/projects/flambeau-mine-ladysmith-wisconsin-u-s/) while continuing to work on a more detailed report to be issued later the same year. Upon the premature death of Dr. Moran, the project was completed by Dr. David Chambers (Center for Sci- ence in Public Participation, Bozeman, MT; csp2.org) and research assistant Laura Gauger (Deer Tail Scientific, Duluth, MN; deertailscientific.wordpress.com), with funding provided by Deer Tail Scientific.
4. Flambeau Mine: Water Contamination and Selective “Alternative Facts”, Robert E. Moran, Ph.D. (Michael-Moran Associates, Golden, CO; remwater.org), May 2019 (posthumous), 116 pg.; available online at https://deertailscientific.wordpress.com/moran-report/.
5. Deer Tail Scientific is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2017. As stated in its bylaws: The mission of Deer Tail Scientific is to educate the public, government officials and tribal sovereign nations with fact-based information on: (1) the permitting, development, reclamation, environmental performance and economics of Wisconsin’s Flambeau Mine; and (2) how the Flambeau Mine compares to other mines (closed, currently operating or proposed) in the Great Lakes region and beyond.