The owner and some executives of a company that wants to develop an open-pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin have begun laying the groundwork for their project - making their first ever campaign contributions in Wisconsin.
Media reports say Gogebic Taconite, which has yet to file any information with the state about the project, bought an option last summer to lease the mineral rights on 22,000 acres in Ashland and Iron counties.
Gogebic will need project approval from the Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies and that could take years. But company officials have already spoken with Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker, a conservation group and an area Indian tribe in recent months. Two company officials met August 5 with Democratic Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar for information about the state's mining approval process.
Meanwhile, company owner Chris Cline of Beckley, West Virginia and two of his executives and their spouses from Florida contributed $5,000 August 6 to Democratic State Senator Jeff Plale of South Milwaukee and a total of $2,500 August 3 and August 5 to Republican Representative Mark Honadel of South Milwaukee. Plale was defeated in the September 12 primary.
Gogebic is a subsidiary of the Cline Group, which controls large coal reserves throughout Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia.