Mining in Wisconsin
Mining has been a part of Wisconsin's economy for a long time. However, the legacy of historic zinc and lead mining in Wisconsin has come with great costs. Groundwater and surface water pollution occurred in southwest Wisconsin from abandoned toxic mine wastes covering thousands of acres and requiring cleanup. As a result, along with proposals for much larger and more destructive modern mining, the Wisconsin legislature passed important and comprehensive mining legislation in the early 1980's. This legislation recognized that all forms of metallic mining, whether iron, copper, lead, zinc, or precious metals, are inherently destructive to the environment and have significant impacts to local communities due to its "boom and bust" nature. The boom and bust of mining requires sound planning to mitigate the economic, social,and environmental impacts of large-scale natural resource extraction. Statewide Conservation Congress Spring Hearing results show the public supports mining safeguards.
In 2011, a coal mining company, Cline Resources and Development, proposed strip mining a known taconite (iron ore) deposit in Iron and Ashland Counties. Taconite mining is another form of metallic sulfide mining, although some mining companies would like it to be considered a different mining category. Cline's Gogebic Taconite wants to open the largest mine in Wisconsin history in the Bad River Watershed of Lake Superior. Click here to learn more about the proposed Penokee Mine.
Mining Moratorium Under Attack
Acid Mine Drainage,
Before the 'Prove It First' or Mining Moratorium Law was approved, the mining industry was challenged to give one example of a mine in metallic sulfides that had been safely operated and closed without polluting the environment. Mining metals found together with sulfides causes acid mine drainage (AMD) when the sulfides are exposed to air and water causing acid production that leaches toxic metals in waters. To this day, the mining industry has not documented a single proven example.
In 2012, mining industry lobbyists and legislators targeted Wisconsin’s landmark Moratorium Law for repeal. The Sierra Club was one of dozens of state organizations along with thousands of Wisconsin citizens who demanded that the mining industry prove it first. We oppose efforts to repeal this important law. Click here to learn more about Wisconsin's Mining Moratorium
As hydraulic fracturing continues to be used as a means to extract natural gas, moreand more frac sand, a resource found in western Wisconsin, is being mined in the state. The sand used for frac sand is silicon dioxide, quartz, sand. These sand grains have to be able to withstand huge amounts of pressure, while propping the fractures open, without crumbling.
According to the Wisconsin DNR, frac sand mining has been operating in Wisconsin for 40 years, but only recently, with increased demand, Wisconsin now has 60 frac sand mines operating, and 20 new mines have been proposed. Click here to learn more about sand mining in Wisconsin.
Select Mining News
Republicans unveil mining bill with some 'less stringent' regulations, Journal Sentinel: article about the 'new' AB 426
Mining Bill on fast track as new legislative session begins, Wisconsin State Journal: Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos mentioning he would like to introduce mining legislation the first week of session.
Senate Select Committee on Mining, WisconsinEYE: Senate hearings with testimony from the DNR, Clean Wisconsin, League of Conservation Voters, the Mining Association and more.
To get involved, please contact Elizabeth Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 256-0565.