MADISON – The state’s largest business group Friday lauded Assembly Republicans for passing needed iron mining reforms and urged the Senate to pass the plan, which Governor Scott Walker has pledged to sign.
“Wisconsin is on the brink of creating thousands of high wage jobs if this bill is signed into law,” said Scott Manley, director of environmental policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “The Assembly Republicans deserve tremendous credit for passing these needed reforms, and the Senate needs to act quickly so the governor can sign them into law.”
The Assembly approved legislation (AB 426) that will create a comprehensive and robust environmental permitting process for iron ore mining. The bill establishes a clear, timely and predictable environmental review process to eliminate the uncertainty that is currently preventing investment in mining.
The bill is supported by a diverse coalition of business and labor groups.
The legislation is needed to encourage the mining of a large iron ore deposit in Iron County near Hurley. Construction of the mine will cost $1.5 billion over two years and create 3,175 direct and indirect jobs. Once operating, the mine will create 2,834 direct and indirect jobs, and that total could climb to 5,668 when the mine is fully operational. The average mining worker will earn $82,984 a year in wages and benefits.
“Wisconsin can protect the environment and create jobs and this bill does both,” Manley said. “It’s a win-win for Wisconsin and the economic impact of the iron mine in Hurley will be felt statewide as manufacturers and other businesses serve the mine.”
In the United States, 99 percent of iron ore for industry are mined from the iron ranges in Minnesota and Michigan. In Minnesota, iron mining is a multi-billion dollar industry. Mine workers in Minnesota earn $81,680 annually in wages and benefits and $88,171 in Michigan.
“Wisconsin families need the high-wage jobs the iron mining industry will provide. Passage of the bill will also strengthen the manufacturing sector in our state,” Manley said. “It’s unfortunate that not a single Democrat voted to support these jobs.”
In order to operate an iron mine, the bill establishes permitting timelines, protects wetlands, establishes clear standards, requires two public hearings, requires posting of a financial bond, requires full reclamation, requires environmental impact statements, maintains water and air quality standards and allows the mining permit to be challenged in court.
For Further Information Contact:
Scott Manley, (608) 258-3400