- The president of the company looking to open an iron ore mine in
northern Wisconsin said Friday he doesn’t know if an
investigation into whether a mine he previously managed
contaminated a Spanish aquifer with arsenic will affect the
Bill Williams, president of Gogebic Taconite, was director of
mining and technical resources for Cobre Las Cruces, which opened
a major copper mine in southern Spain in 2009. He left the company
in 2011 and became president of Gogebic Taconite, which is based
in Florida but has an office in Hurley, Wis.
Gogebic Taconite has proposed opening a $1.5 billion iron ore mine
near Lake Superior in Ashland and Iron counties. Williams and
company officials are in the process of submitting a formal
application to state regulators for the mine, which would cover a
4-mile area. The plan has generated opposition from
environmentalists, members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior
Chippewa who live in the area and others who fear the mine will
pollute the region.
Gogebic’s interest in the project began in 2010, before Williams
joined the company.
Williams said he needed more information about the Spanish
investigation before he could say how it might affect the plans
and declined further comment. But he also downplayed the
‘‘It’s just opposition against the mining in that
area,’’ he said.
Cobre Las Cruces, which has a major copper mine in southern Spain,
has been accused of contaminating an aquifer in the area with
It’s not unusual to have problematic levels of arsenic in water
when mining, but it’s not known whether that would be an
issue with the Wisconsin mine, said Tom Evans, a retired geologist
from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.
Problems, whether related to arsenic or other potential
contaminants, can be properly mitigated, Evans said.
‘‘You have to design a project that will deal with that one
way or another,’’ he said. ‘‘There is no mining of these
kind of deposits that are inherently safe. They all are inherently
problematic, or dangerous, whatever word you want to use because
you are disrupting things.’’