03.13.13 Meeting with Timmy Myers and Bill Sande, USACOE

Operations - Regulatory (2010-05299-WMS)           


DATE: March 13, 2013

SUBJECT:  Meeting with Gogebic Taconite


1.      On March 13, 2013, OP-R (Sande) and (Graser via phone) met with Tim Myers of Gogebic Taconite.  Myers presented several maps that showed the conceptual footprint of a mine that included two pits, a tailings and waste rock disposal area, a topsoil disposal area, a processing facility, office building area, access roads, railroads and stormwater ponds.  The project would also require supporting infrastructure such as utilities, water, power, natural gas, and fiber optic cable. Additionally, the project would involve the restoration of the CN railroad track needed to move materials. The mining operation described included two phases for an overall project life of 35 years.  The project site would occupy nearly 4,000 acres of land in Ashland and Iron Counties, Wisconsin.


2.     Myers stated that they intend to complete exploration drilling this spring to gather additional data on the composition of the ore body as needed to further develop the plan.  The exploration drilling would be conducted with a trailer mounted drill rig to drill 2-inch diameter cores within existing logging roads. It is not anticipated that this work would result in discharges of dredged or fill material into WOUS and a permit would not required.   


3.     Myers stated they propose to do conduct bulk sampling this summer in 3 locations.  The bulk sampling would include the excavation of material from an area approximately 100 feet long by 8 feet wide at each location.  Myers indicated that they anticipate accessing the sampling locations from existing roads and the abandoned railroad grade.  I inquired whether he anticipated the need to improve or expand the existing roads and/or the railroad grade to support the equipment. Myers indicated that may be a possibility. I stated that a wetland delineation should be completed in any areas identified where work is proposed, such as mechanized land clearing, excavation and associated side-cast, road raising or widening, as a Department of the army permit may be required.  An application filed with the WDNR for bulk sampling by state law is considered to begin the 12 month clock after which an application to mine may be filed.


4.     Myers also presented some information on their anticipated operational process that includes a method of “dry stacking” that is, mixing waste rock and tailings together

to reduce the necessary footprint of project.  It was further explained that the material would be characterized to determine the potential for acid bearing material. It may be that some material would be hauled to a landfill with a clay liner.  OP-R noted that the project should not be designed for passive treatment only, and indicated concern for co-mingling of tailings and waste rock.  Finally, OP-R indicated that financial assurances for post-closure mechanical treatment may be warranted dependent on reactivity of rock.


5.     Myers expressed interest in meeting jointly with the WDNR to develop a scoping plan needed to identify each agencies information needs.  Myers indicated they intend to complete wetland delineation work this summer. I stressed that it would be important to ensure the delineators map all water resources on the site in addition to wetlands.  I also stated that there are unmapped streams that would need to be identified and mapped.  There was some discussion on the development of a MOU and the EIS process as well as compensatory mitigation requirements.


6.     Meyers indicated that his attempts to contact the Bad River Band have been met with refusal, that the Tribe is interested in governmental coordination.  Gogebic is interested in having OP-R complete communication with the Tribe.


7.     OP-R suggested that Gogebic provide information to our agency regarding the methods for modeling and monitoring proposed to quantify impacts in advance of completing work to ensure that the results would satisfy OP-R informational requirements.  OP-R indicated that some studies may require several years of data.


8.     Myers indicated that an additional 3 locations adjacent to the proposed mine may be pursued in the future.  Anticipated reclamation of the mine location to be after the first 35 years would include backfilling the half the mine pit, with development of a lake for the second half of the mine site.



Bill Sande

Project Manager

Hayward Field Office