An Open Letter to the Press Regarding GTAC

December 3, 2013 by WCMC

A version of the following letter was composed by Dr. Joseph Skulan, who has been covering the 22-mile open-pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine being proposed by GTac in the Penokee Hills and is a member of WCMC. The letter was sent to a contact in the Wisconsin press, but he voices concerns that represent the Coop in our quest to inspire the mainstream corporate media to cover this story accurately.

December 2, 2013

Dear ———-:

Grunerite asbestos 1

3 Asbestos polarized Microscopic images of asbestiform grunerite, one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos, from the site of GTac’s proposed iron mine. Above: scanning electron microscope (SEM) made at UW-Madison by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.  Below: a crude but revealing cross polarized light microscope image of a different sample collected at the mine site by Dr. Skulan.

The following passage appears in GTac’s revised bulk sample plan, released on the DNR website today:

The grunerite [asbestos] issue has been the subject of a media debate and the removal of these areas leaves the debate to be resolved by the systematic and scientific study of the issue that will be required within the permit application. Our position remains that asbestiform material is unlikely to be present in the reserve, but will defer to a proven and methodical approach to address the potential of asbestiform materials in the future mining permit application.

My question is this: why has the press continued to report that the presence of grunerite asbestos within the GTac mine site is a matter of debate? It is not.

The presence of asbestiform grunerite has been proven by multiple independent analyses, and can be documented by anyone who takes to trouble to walk the Penokee ridge. This is not a “he said, she said” story. It is not a story with two sides, at least not if those two sides are questioning if asbestos is or is not present. That is a scientific question, a question of objective fact, and it is a question that has been settled. The debate should be about the severity of the danger posed by the asbestos, which is not a settled question.

The GTac statement is not credible. It is either an outright lie or an expression of astounding ignorance and incompetence. Will the press report it as such, or will it continue to report it as one side in a controversy, and thereby help to maintain the muddled and confused state of public debate over the mining issue, a confusion that largely springs from the portrayal of objective reality as a matter of opinion? If GTac claimed that the Penokees were 6,000 years old, they would be no more unscientific than when they claim that the presence of asbestos is still an open question. In fact, their denial of asbestos is worse than creationism, because unlike the age of the earth, the presence of asbestos at the GTac mine site can be directly observed by anyone who takes the effort to carefully examine the rocks.

I repeat my offer to you or any other journalist: Let me take you up to the asbestos-bearing outcrops in the Penokees. Take your own sample, and send it off to an independent lab for analysis.

GTac is entitled to argue in favor of a mine. No reasonable person would expect them to do anything else. But GTac’s continued denial of the objective facts prevents any rational debate about the mine, and is frankly insulting to the scientists who have looked at the issue.

Kind Regards

Dr. Joseph Skulan

Video of a one-on-one meeting with GTac at the Ashland Library on November 13, 2013. GTac claims the confirmed presence of asbestos and sulfides are “media issues” and urged people not to listen to the “witchy” information given by several credentials scientists. Video by Danielle Kaeding

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One Comment on “An Open Letter to the Press Regarding GTAC”

  1. MontrealHammer December 3, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Someone needs to remind these prevaricating mine pimps that the methods of extraction at the deep shaft mines of the areas past are entirely different from the open pit mine that GTac is proposing. The Montreal mine followed deposits of very high grade ore, thus minimizing the contact with waste rock that bore sulfide minerals. Additionally the ore was of such a high grade that it did not require on site crushing and refinement to extract the target mineral. The waste rock piles of the Montreal mine are not finely crushed, thus the surface area exposed to environmental. degradation of any sulfide minerals present was minimized. For this reason, it is likely that any acid mine drainage from the deep shaft mines was minimal. However, no monitoring was done at the time for AMD, so for GTac to claim the that there was no AMD at all in this area is a ridiculous claim. There is no data to support, or refute, the claim that the shaft mines were free of AMD.

    There are historical records of the existence of sulfide minerals in the Gogebic-Penokee Range. This is objective unrefutable fact—not subject to opinion, or speculation.

    The processes of extraction, and subsequent on-site refinement at the proposed GTac mine are entirely different than that of the shaft mines of the past. The only similarity which GTac can reasonably claim is that the target mineral is the same. Even then, the geologic composition of the ore deposits are vastly different.

    Those in opposition to this proposed debacle of a mine should immediately refute any claims by GTac that the open pit mines will be as environmentally safe as the shaft mines of the past. IMMEDIATELY. In their presence. As the lies spill from their lips. Call them out as the liars they are.

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