Meeting Notes – Gogebic Taconite and OP-R conference call
Date: December 16, 2013, 10am
Meeting Purpose: The purpose of the meeting was to update our agency on the proposed bulk sampling and potential mining operation.
Attendees: OP-R staff Rebecca Graser and Bill Sande; Tim Meyers (GTAC); Courtnay Bot (Barr Engineering) and Lori Stegink (Barr Engineering).
Major Discussion Points:
GTAC is preparing a response to our July 2013 letter regarding the proposed bulk sampling project. The sponsor has revised the project since the original information was provided to us in summer 2013. The project as currently proposed would avoid all aquatic resource impacts.
GTAC expressed a clear interest in having our agency work with the WDNR to review the proposed methods for data collection and modeling (“work plans”). These plans are not currently ready for agency review, and some will be iterative or predicated/refined upon the results of preceeding data collection. The first plans will likely be ready in spring 2013, and would be provided for comment in advance of an application. OP-R expressed interest in ensuring that our needs are identified to the sponsor in a timely fashion, but agreed to follow up with GTAC and Barr regarding how to best leverage our resources.
OP-R staff indicated that they were in the process of providing a response to the November 26th WDNR letter requesting joint preparation of an EIS. OP-R was clear that the state timeframes for development of an EIS were a concern, particularly with a dearth of information available regarding the proposed project. GTAC indicated that while the dates for state completion of an EIS were available for discussion, the sponsor was not interested in an unlimited timeframe, as it would not provide certainty that a response would be provided on a defined date. OP-R indicated that we would make our decision based on the information available to us.
GTAC indicated that much of the data collection needed to support an application was to be collected beginning this growing season, and that while an application may be filed with the state as early as summer 2014, this was not GTAC’s intent. They are hoping to produce a robust application.
Finally, GTAC indicated that it was their intent to complete some winter drilling, and that they would wait for ice roads to develop in areas where potential regulated resources may be crossed by equipment (wetlands in old roadbeds). The work described sounded like it would not require a permit. OP-R staff indicated that if GTAC was looking for confirmation from our agency, that they should provide us a written request with the appropriate documentation.