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IRON COUNTY - Gogebic Taconite is taking a step closer to what could be one of the most lucrative iron ore mines in Wisconsin."We're kind of excited to be on the ground moving forward with the project," Gogebic Taconite Environmental Affairs Directory Bob Seitz said.
They're drilling and digging at least 500 feet into Penokee Hills rocks, looking at the chemical make-up, and potential environmental issues to provide information to both supporters and opponents.
"Allow them to make their arguments, but the arguments will be based on facts,” said Seitz. “Where right now the arguments are based on conjecture."
GTac officials tell FOX 21 News they have already had violent run-ins with opponents.
"They came out of the woods all dressed in black with turban kind of things wrapped around their heads,” said Seitz.
They say that so far, protestors have tried to break and steal their equipment, attacked a worker and displayed other threatening behavior.
"They were threatening their lives, they were threatening their homes, they were threatening their kids while they were attacking them,” said Seitz.
The Lac Courte Orielles Harvest Camp is located near the potential mining site and is just one group strongly against the project.
They believe it will have harmful environmental impacts and kill off food eaten by the reservations.
"The Native has no option we have reservations to live on,” said Mel Gasper with the The Lac Courte Orielles Harvest Camp. “So we have to stay here so losing it not an option."
But Gasper says the protesting incidents are isolated events done by another group.
"None of my people have gone there to protest," said Gasper.
Instead, they are taking a non–violent approach with education and legal action.
"Let this go over and hash it out in court," said Gasper.
If the mining is approved, GTac will be able to extract iron ore from the site for the next 35 years.