Crandon Mine Alert, Apr. 11, 2003  ·  LINKS TO CYANIDE PAGES  ·  MTN - content page

ban cyanide mining


* * * 2003 bill to ban the use of cyanide in mining is called ASSEMBLY BILL 91 ... now in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee...
The Wolf River Headwaters Protection Purchase (for the public acquisition of the Crandon Mine site)

Ban cyanide in Wisconsin mines
Student mine summit participants walk from the Mole Lake Ojibwe Reservation to the proposed Crandon mine site, carrying banner reading: "Ban Cyanide in Wisconsin Mines," on April 29, 2001. Photo: Zoltán Grossman

Cyanide ban campaign, 2001-02 , page

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The 2003 bill to ban the use of cyanide in mining is called ASSEMBLY BILL 91 and it is now in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud (R-96th-Eastman). PLEASE CONTACT JOHNSRUD to respectfully ask him for a public hearing and committee vote on the mining bills:

Tel. (608) 266-3534 (fax 282-3696); toll-free 1-888-534-0096; P.O. Box 8952, Madison WI 53708; . Email .

Most of the attention of the legislature is focused exclusively on the budget, and the process for bills has been slow. The no special treatment bill will also be introduced very soon. At the meeting, we will plan a rally/lobby day for when the legislators are again focused on bills.

UPDATES: Wolf Watershed Educational Project,
c/o Midwest Treaty Network, PO Box 1045, Eau Claire WI 54702;
Call (715) 833-8552 or 882-4800. E-mail; Hotline: 800-445-8615;

Passed resolutions for a ban on cyanide in Wisconsin mining:

  • Brown Co.
  • Douglas Co.
  • Kenosha Co.
  • Langlade Co.
  • Menominee Co.
  • Milwaukee Co.
  • Racine Co.
  • Rusk Co.
  • Shawano Co.
  • Waupaca Co.
  • Portage Co.
  • Town of Lawrence, Brown  Co.
  • Town of Nashville, Forest  Co.
  • Town of Ainsworth, Langlade  Co.
  • Town of Langlade, Langlade Co.
  • Town of Wolf River, Langlade Co.
  • Town of Appleton, Outagamie Co.
  • Village of Cecil, Shawano Co.
  • Town of Deer Creek, Outagamie Co.
  • Town of Ellington, Outagamie Co.
  • Town of Grand Chute,Outagamie Co.
  • Village of Combined Locks, Outagamie Co.
  • Village of Shiocton, Outagamie Co.
  • Town of Liberty, Outagamie Co.
  • Town of Herman, Shawano Co.
  • Township of Navarino, Shawano Co.
  • Town of Pella, Shawano Co
  • Town of Richmond, Shawano Co.
  • Town of Waukechon, Shawano Co.
  • Town of Westcott, Shawano Co.
  • Village of Fremont, Waupaca Co.
  • Town of Mukwa, Waupaca Co.
  • Town of Omro, Winnebago Co.
  • Town of Oshkosh, Winnebago Co.
  • Town of Poygan, Winnebago Co.
  • Town of Washington, Shawano Co.
  • Town of Weyauwega, Waupaca Co.
  • Town of Winneconne, Winnebago Co.
  • Town of Wolf River, Winnebago Co.
  • Forest County Potawatomi
  • Menominee Indian Tribe
  • Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community
  • Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Fox Valley Area Labor Council AFL-CIO
  • Marinette & Menominee Central Labor Council AFL-CIO
  • South Central Federation of Labor AFL-CIO
  • Winnebago County. Labor Council AFL-CIO
  • Communications Workers of America Local 4603 (Milwaukee)
  • Communications Workers of America Local 4621 (Appleton)
  • Industrial Workers of the World (Madison)
  • Industrial Workers of the World (Milwaukee)
  • Plumbers Local 75 (Milwaukee)
  • United Steelworkers Local 1527 (Milwaukee)
  • Brown County Conservation Alliance
  • Trout Unlimited - Wisconsin Council
  • Trout Unlimited - Green Bay chapter
  • Walleyes For Tomorrow
  • Wisconsin Conservation Congress

  • City of Appleton
  • City of Franklin
  • City of Milwaukee
  • City of New London
  • City of Shawano
  • Anishinaabe Niijii
  • Citizens Natural Resource Association of Wisconsin
  • Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
  • Clean Water Action Council of N.E. Wisconsin
  • Door County Environmental Council
  • EarthWINS
  • Faith Community for Worker Justice (Wauwatosa)
  • Family Farm Defenders
  • Fox Valley Unitarian-Universalist
    Social Responsibility Committee
  • Heart Lake Conservation Associates
  • Langlade  County Waterways Association
  • Lakeland Audubon Society (Elkhorn)
  • Lake Superior Alliance
  • League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
  • Madison Treaty Rights Support Group
  • Midwest Treaty Network
  • Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin
  • Natural State Water Protection Association
  • Northern Thunder
  • Northwoods Economic Development Project
  • Peace Action-Wisconsin
  • Portage  County Greens
  • Post Lake Improvement Association (Elcho)
  • Protect Our Wolf River - Shawano Co.
  • Protect The Earth
  • Rainforest Information Centre
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin
  • Rusk  County Citizens Action Group
  • Save Our Unique Lands Kennan-Catawba)
  • Save Our Unique Lands (Rusk Co.)
  • Save Our Unique Lands (Stone Lake)
  • Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter
  • Student Government Association,
    University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
  • Superior Wilderness Action Network
  • University of Wisconsin Greens
  • Western Lakes Wildlife Center
  • Wisconsin Council of Senior Citizens
  • Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign
  • Wisconsin Green Party
  • Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
  • Wisconsin's Environmental Decade
  • Wolf River Watershed Alliance
  • Wolf Watershed Educational Project

List current through February 2003




Senate Bill 160
( Ban on Cyanide In All Wisconsin Mines -
and Senate Bill 271 (No Special Treatment for Mining)

SENATE BILL160 would ban the use of cyanide in Wisconsin mines. Cyanide is a highly toxic, environmentally dangerous chemical used to process ores at mines. Nicolet Minerals Company (NMC), a subsidiary of the Australian/South African mining giant BHP Billiton, wants to use millions of pounds of cyanide at its proposed Crandon mine, near the headwaters of the Wolf River - despite the fact that alternatives to cyanide are being used at similar mines. The vast majority of U.S. copper and zinc mines do not use cyanide for ore processing.

Because mining wastes are not subject to hazardous waste laws, NMC plans to landfill waste cyanide in its mine waste dump and underground in the abandoned mine. This plan places drinking water and streams and rivers such as the Wolf River at risk. A 2000 cyanide spill in one of Europe's foremost fishing rivers led to concern around the world; cyanide bans in mining have been passed in Montana, the Czech Republic, and Wisconsin's Vilas and Oneida counties.

Extremely small amounts of cyanide are deadly to fish. The federal standard for aquatic life is 5 parts per billion. NMC's waste tailings pond will contain cyanide at nearly 500 times higher than the standard. NMC's parent company has suffered mine waste spills as recently as 2000. A mine waste spill into Wisconsin streams and rivers could be catastrophic to fish and other wildlife.

Shipping cyanide to the proposed Crandon mine or other mines could lead to accidents. NMC proposes to ship between 7 and 20 tons of cyanide to the mine each month. Research has found at least 23 transportation-related spills of cyanide in the U.S. in the ten years ending in 1997. Some other Wisconsin industries use cyanide, but the largest uses 10 times less cyanide than the Crandon mine would use, and none use cyanide in the northern region that is reliant on clean water

NMC's parent company BHP has a terrible environmental track record at mines it operated in Nevada and Arizona. Over a four-year time span through the end of 2000, BHP spilled cyanide twice and caused a major mine waste spill in 1997 that covered three quarters of a mile of Pinto Creek in Arizona and cost more than $30 million to clean up. In that same time span, BHP caused at least 28 additional spills of hazardous materials. BHP's track record is important because its subsidiary, Nicolet Minerals, has never operated a mine before.

Senate Bill 160 has broad-based public support. In April 2001, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress voted 10-1 against cyanide use in mining. More than three dozen county or local governments have passed resolutions for a cyanide ban, along with Native American tribes, labor union locals and labor councils, sportfishing groups, environmental groups, and other organizations (such as the Wisconsin League of Women Voters and Wisconsin Council of Senior Citizens), have passed resolutions in support of SB 160. A poll has showed 58% statewide support for banning cyanide in all Wisconsin mine (65% in northeastern Wisconsin closer to the Crandon mine site). Over 16,000 people have also signed a petition.

The mining company wants to exempt the Crandon mine from the cyanide ban by restricting the ban to type of ore processing that would not be used at the mine. But problems with cyanide in mining are not only during the ore processing, which separates the metal from the ore, but mainly with the transportation of cyanide before the processing, and the storage of cyanide wastes after the processing. SB-160 would ban the use of cyanide in all Wisconsin mines, but the mining company will try to weaken SB-160 with amendments that make exceptions to the ban, for teh sake of its own profit.

SENATE BILL 271 would end special treatment for mining in our state laws. Mining should not be allowed to pollute more than similar industries or activities. For instance, mining waste sites should be subject to the same groundwater standards as landfills or hazardous waste facilities. Mining should be required to meet environmental standards that are at least as strict as other activities.

Mining wastes are not currently subject to hazardous waste laws - even if the wastes contain deadly cyanide and other toxic chemicals. SB 271 would make mine wastes subject to hazardous waste laws. SB 271 would also prevent DNR from issuing permits for mines if modeling shows that a mine would pollute beyond enforcement standards.

Senate Bill 271 also has tremendous public support. 90% of Wisconsin adults believe mining should be held to the same groundwater and hazardous waste standards as other industries, according to a statewide poll of 600 Wisconsin residents conducted in June 2001 by Chamberlain Research Associates.

See below for information on how you can help get SB 160 and SB 271 passed this year. Hotline for updates: 800-445-8615


Senate Bill 271 and Senate Bill 160 have both passed the Senate. They must have an Assembly hearing, a vote in the Assembly Environment Committee and a vote by the full Assembly by March 14. The governor's signature is also required for a bill to become law. Please call or write your Assembly representative and the governor today. Urge them to schedule the bills and to vote for them.

Call the Legislative Hotline (even if you don't knwo your Rep.'s name ) at 1-800-362-9472 toll free. Say you support SB-160 to ban cyanide in all Wisconsin mines (without any exemptions or weakening amendments) and SB-271 to end speacial treatement for mining companies. For direct toll-free numbers, see

The mailing address for Assembly Representatives whose last names start with A through L is: PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708.
For Reps' last names that start with M through Z the address: PO Box 8953,
Madison, WI 53708.
The e-mail addresses is: Rep.(insert last name)

IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT OF THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS, please write or call (toll-free) your Rep. immediately to have him request a committee hearing and vote on SB-160 and SB-271.

*** Please pass this on to anyone you know in their districts (see counties and towns below) ***
P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
43rd Walworth Co./E. Rock Counties
(Elkhorn, Clinton, Delavan, Williams Bay, Walworth, Fontana)
PO Box 8953, Madison WI 53708
3rd Calumet/N. Fond du Lac/S. Brown Counties
(Forest Junction, Stockbridge,
Chilton, Brillion, St Cloud S. Appleton)
PO Box 8953, Madison WI 53708
33rd Waukesha/S. Washington Counties
(Hartland, Nashotah, Chenequa, Melton, Wales)
P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
82nd Milwaukee County
(Greenfield, Greendale, Franklin)
P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
96th Vernon/Crawford/W. Richland Counties
(Eastman, Viroqua, Westby, LaFarge, Hillsboro, Coon Valley, Soldiers Grove, Prairie du Chien, Wauzeka, Steuben, Gays Mills, Ferryville)
PO Box 8953, Madison WI 53708
80th W. Rock/Green Counties
(Albany, Monroe, Browntown, Monticello, Evansville, Orfordville, Evansville, W. Janesville)

3. CONTACT GOVERNOR Scott McCallum at 608/266-1212 or or at 115 East State Capitol, Madison WI 53702.

Check Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining Alerts, links (updates on legislation, resolutions, etc.). Wolf Watershed Educational Project (more on the proposed Crandon mine) Links at

5. PRINT OUT A LEAFLET on cyanide in mining cyanide_leaflet.html

Talking points on cyanide in mining points.html

on cyanide use in Wisconsin mines (16,000 signatures so far)

on cyanide in mining (for groups, local government) wcbcm-prt_res.html

Read Past Press Releases on the cyanide ban in mining releases.html
Read Press Articles on the Wisconsin mining bills cyanide_news.html
Poll shows majority support for mining bills poll.html
Get background on cyanide at the Crandon mine (technical documents, DNR assessments, etc.) cyanide2.html
Map of Wisconsin cyanide routes and resolutions cyanidemap.html

Background on cyanide in US mines (accidents, referenda, etc.) cyanide-usa.html
Background on cyanide in overseas mines (accidents, movements, etc.) cyanide3.html
US transportation spills of cyanide cyan-spill.html
Security of cyanide transportation, security.html

BHP spilled cyanide at mines in Arizona and Nevada BHP-hazard.html
BHP mining track record bhp.html
Billiton mining track record billiton.html

Get on our Mining Alert list by e-mailing
Wolf Watershed Educational Project
c/o Midwest Treaty Network
P.O. Box 14382, Madison,
WI 53714-4382 USA
Toll-free hotline 800-445-8615
Tel/Fax 608-246-2256



Wisconsin Co. cyanide bans:


Section B Definition # 13.
Oneida Co. defines "solution mining" as "means the extraction of ore by the use of chemical reagents, including but not limited to cyanide heap leaching, vat leach mining or in situ leach mining technologies."

Section C
2. Prohibitions
d. "The following types of metallic mineral mining and prospecting activities or operations are prohibited:

  1. The process of solution mining
  2. Smelting or refining
  3. Disposal of mining wastes at a prospecting or mining site in this Co. from a prospecting or mining site outside of the Co.."
Metallic Mining Ordinance
effective date: 6/16/99
Section 3.3

(1) Solution mining is prohibited. The process includes but is not limited to cyanide heap leach or vat leach mining, or leach mining with other toxic chemicals.



Groups that have signed on to the

(as of April 5, 2001)
  • Wolf Watershed Educational Project/ Midwest Treaty Network
  • Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin Inc.
  • Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
  • Northern Thunder
  • Wisconsin's Environmental Decade
  • EarthWINS
  • Wisconsin Stewardship Network
  • Rusk Co. Citizens Action Group
  • Superior Wilderness Action Network
  • Clean Water Action Council of Northeastern Wisconsin
  • Wolf River Watershed Alliance
  • Wisconsin Greens
  • University of Wisconsin Greens
  • Natural State Water Protection Association (Arkansas)
  • Rainforest Information Centre (New South Wales, Australia)
  • Door Co. Environemntal Council

Now is Perfect Time to Ban Cyanide in Mining, Black Says
Monday, October 7, 2002


Crandon Mine Only Temporarily Shelved;
Stronger Mining Law Still Needed

Assembly Democratic Leader Spencer Black announced today that he will reintroduce legislation in January 2003 to ban the use of cyanide in mining in the wake of a mining company's decision to put the Crandon mine project on hold.

"With the Crandon mine project in abeyance, now is the right time for Wisconsin to strengthen our environmental laws and protect our water by banning cyanide in mining," Black said. "I will reintroduce the cyanide ban when the Legislature returns in January so Wisconsin's water will be protected from cyanide at Crandon or any other mine in the future."

Black said, "Although the foreign owners of the Crandon mine have all but given up, the DNR's mine permit review process continues. All of us who care about protecting Wisconsin's rivers, lakes and streams should keep our guard up."

Black noted that the Crandon mine's owners opposed the cyanide ban bill in the past, arguing that the Legislature shouldn't change the rules in the middle of the game. "That is exactly why we must act now to prohibit mining companies from using cyanide. Any new mining company would know the rules in advance and would be forced to use alternatives to cyanide," Black said.

"The people of this state want our environment protected from the kind of mining catastrophes that have occurred in other states and around the world," said Black. "There simply is no way to safely use cyanide in mining."

Mining companies use cyanide to extract metals from crushed rock in water. Nicolet Minerasl Company had planned to use as much as 20 tons of cyanide per month at the Crandon site, which is at the headwaters of the Wolf River.

The Assembly Democratic Leader pointed out that Wisconsin would not be the first state to pass a cyanide ban. The state of Montana passed a similar law in 1998, and the Colorado Legislature is considering a cyanide ban. Also, many countries have prohibited mining companies from using cyanide in mining operations after suffering serious environmental contamination. Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic have banned the use of cyanide in mining.

Assembly Democratic Leader Spencer Black
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708


Apr. 21, 2003

Mining bill gets second shot in Legislature
Hansen behind call for tougher waste standards

By John Dipko
Green Bay Press-Gazette

MADISON � A mining bill that foundered despite bipartisan support last year faces another uphill battle this year, even with Gov. Jim Doyle�s backing.

The legislation sponsored by state Rep. Terri McCormick, R-Grand Chute, and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, would require Wisconsin mines to comply with groundwater standards that other landfills must meet.

Both lawmakers said they intend to take another run at getting the bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature, even though the bill died last year in the Republican-controlled Assembly.

�It�s a tough one, but I�m really hoping my colleagues see this as a meritorious issue rather than a partisan one,� McCormick said. �My constituents are urging me to make this bipartisan with no politics. If the public gets involved and it becomes undeniable to the leadership that they want this, we�ll take the issue up rather than pass it on.�

Current law allows the state Department of Natural Resources to grant exemptions from rules regulating storage and disposal of mining-related solid and hazardous waste.

Bill supporters say the measure could help provide an early warning of groundwater pollution problems and help promote cleaner mine sites.

Critics say the bill is a backdoor means to kill a proposed zinc and copper mine near Crandon at the headwaters of the Wolf River, which flows into Lake Winnebago, the Fox River and the bay of Green Bay.

The proposal required mines to meet groundwater standards within 150 feet of the waste site, as opposed to 1,200 feet under current law.

It also would require that if the waste found in the mining landfill is hazardous, then it would be treated as hazardous waste.

�This isn�t about killing any industry,� Hansen said. �It�s about saving fishing holes.�

But state Rep. Lorraine Seratti, R-Spread Eagle, said state rules that took effect in recent years have strengthened mining laws to the point that she�s satisfied.

�This is a very complex issue to explain to people,� she said. �It�s been a political football, and there�s a lot of confusion out there as to what would be achieved with the proposed standards. We just have a difference of opinion as to what would actually be accomplished.�

McCormick said she�s not trying to kill the project, but wants to ensure it proceeds without jeopardizing the pristine environment of the Northwoods, which is vital to the state�s tourism industry.

Doyle, a Democrat, said he�s optimistic the Republican-controlled Legislature will pass the law.

�There�s a good chance if people are prepared to focus on the merits, just like on the bipartisan manner legislators were able to pass legislation on protecting wetlands,� he said. �I think everyone should be concerned about groundwater, and everyone should be concerned about the effects of mine tailings in the groundwater, just as they are with landfills.�

A group headed by Gordon P. Connor of Nicolet Hardwoods Corp. of Laona recently bought the mine. The company has operated logging and manufacturing interests in Forest County for decades.

�We�re looking to do this project in an environmentally sound manner,� said project manager Gordon R. Connor, who voiced frustration that the proposed mine has been tied up for years.

The DNR is continuing the permitting process.


April 28, 2003
Rep. Terri McCormick
PHONE: (608) 266-7500


Circulates Equal Treatment Bill for Co-sponsorship

MADISON- In an effort to keep Wisconsin�s ground waters safe, Representative Terri McCormick (R-Grand Chute) is reintroducing legislation today that would update Wisconsin's groundwater regulations for mining while protecting other job growth industries. The legislation would require mines to follow the same groundwater rules as other businesses.

"This bill is about equal treatment," McCormick said. "I want to make sure that mines are meeting fair and reasonable environmental standards. These are standards that other industries must already meet on waste disposal and other issues."

McCormick represents the 56th Assembly District that contains several large bodies of water including Lake Poygan, Butte des Morts and Winnebago, as well as the Fox River and Green Bay River. Since she was elected into the Assembly in 2000, McCormick has consistently been a leader on groundwater issues, as many of the state�s waterways flow into and from the Fox Valley region.

"This issue continues to be one of great importance for not only the Fox Valley region, but for the state of Wisconsin as a whole," McCormick said. "In order to protect our water, we must close loopholes in the state�s mining laws to ensure that mining waste is subject to the same requirements as waste from other industries."

McCormick introduced the same legislation last session, but AB 547 failed to pass the Legislature.



This project was made possible by generous funding by the Fund of the Sacred Circle, the Honor The Earth Campaign, and the Wisconsin Community Fund.


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Poll shows majority opposes mining, cyanide in Wisconsin , July 2001
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