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Wisconsin legislature passes iron mining reform legislation

While the rigid mining permitting process at the federal level continues to be a problem and gives the United States the dubious honor of being tied with Papua New Guinea for having the lengthiest permitting process of the 25 major mining nations, progress is being made in Wisconsin this month.

Governor Scott Walker signed an iron mining reform bill on March 11, ending a heated legislative battle over mineral development. The measure paves the way for a specific iron ore mining project in northern Wisconsin and, according to its proponents, generally streamlines the permits needed to build and operate an iron mine while maintaining environmental protections.

Supporters have argued that the proposed iron mine in Iron County would create an estimated 2,000 jobs during the construction process and would employ 700 workers, who would receive salaries and wages far higher than the average income in the area. The multiplier effect would lead to the creation of 2,100 jobs to support the mine.