County to discuss anti-mining resolution Tuesday 

A group opposed to the proposed metallic mining operation in the Town of Easton have put forward a resolution the county will discuss Tuesday.

The resolution, which will be taken up at the county’s Environmental Resources Committee meeting at 3 pm Tuesday, is a call to the state against the current permitting process, and calls on the DNR and other state agencies to put in place a moratorium on any metallic mining permits in Marathon County until the state can develop new rules around the permitting process. 

The state government opened up metallic mining in Wisconsin in 2017, allowing counties to develop their own permitting process. But, as then-Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett warned county leaders at the time, state leaders made clear to county officials that any permitting process they deemed too stringent would be met with legal challenge from the state. 

At the time, no direct mining proposal was in sight, but this year Green Light Metals USA proposed exploratory drilling in the Reef deposit in the town of Easton. Green Light executives believe there might be as much as nine grams of gold per ton of ore found on the site. 

Activists point out in the resolution that the mining could be damaging to the water table, and could have environmental impacts that could put a dent in the county’s $230 million tourism business, area businesses, tribal cultural assets and property values. Resources such as the Eau Claire Dells, the Ice Age Trail and the Plover River woods are in an area that could be impacted by the reduction in water table required to operate a mine on the site, the resolution’s authors argue. 

Tuesday’s meeting will include a closed session. According to the agenda, that’s being conducted under the idea that the county would be discussing potential litigation it might be involved in. 

Activists plan to speak in favor of the resolution.