The Flambeau Mine pit was dug to within 150 feet of the Flambeau River. During the permitting process, people were worried that groundwater polluted with heavy metals from the mining operation would get into the river. Rio Tinto/Kennecott responded by telling the people that there was nothing to worry about because the bedrock between the mine pit and the Flambeau River was like the “Hoover Dam.” The plaque pictured below was actually posted at the mine site:
Rio Tinto/Kennecott also stated the following in a 1991 brochure about the Flambeau Mine: “The [mine pit] will be located near the Flambeau River and will be separated, at its nearest point, by a 140-foot-wide rock pillar that has the strength of solid concrete and provides a barrier stronger than the Hoover Dam which holds back the Colorado River.”
Only later did the public learn that Rio Tinto/Kennecott had lied. A 2003 open records request of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources produced a document (Flambeau Mine Permit Application, Appendix L, page 30/L32 ) revealing that Rio Tinto/Kennecott knew in 1987, before the mine was built, that the rock between the pit and the river was “fractured” and that the contaminated groundwater leaving the mine pit would “flow directly into the bed of the Flambeau River.” That includes the water contaminated with manganese, iron, copper and sulfate shown in graphs elsewhere on this website.
But there is even more to the story. In April 2015 mining engineer/geologist Jack Parker (Jack Parker and Associates, Baltic, MI) reviewed and offered comment on various claims made by Rio Tinto and others with regard to groundwater contamination at the Flambeau Mine site. He also suggested a plan to investigate the extent and degree of groundwater contamination at the site. Please see below.
To read JP’s comments in their entirety and access several related documents of interest, please click on the below links:
- Flambeau Facts, Jack Parker, April 2015
- Covering letter and resume that accompanied JP’s comments, April 2015
- Introductory Letter sent to Rusk County, City of Ladysmith, and Town of Grant officials by Laura Gauger regarding JP’s findings, June 12, 2015 (Laura sent a copy of JP’s findings, covering letter and resume to each recipient of the introductory letter on June 15, 2015).
- Press release sent to Ladysmith News by Laura Gauger, June 18, 2015 (Editor Luke Klink opted not to cover the story in either the June 25 or July 1, 2015 issue of the paper. Perhaps later? Stay tuned!)
For more information about the Flambeau Mine/Model Mine myth, please click HERE.