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Proposed Crandon Mine in Northeast Wisconsin, USA


In 1976 Exxon Coal and Minerals Company announced the discovery of a zinc-copper ore body located in northeastern Wisconsin near the city of Crandon. During the early 1980's, Exxon submitted the necessary permit applications and environmental studies necessary to characterize the environment surrounding the project site. A Final Environmental Impact Statement was published in November 1986 and in December Exxon withdrew their application, citing depressed minerals prices, and a formal permitting decision and evaluation was never determined [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Proposed Crandon Mine in Northeast Wisconsin, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Wisconsin
Location of conflict:Crandon
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Nicolet Minerals Company (NMC) proposed to develop the project as an underground mine and remove 55 million tons of ore from the sulfide mineral deposit, which is approximately 4,900 feet long, 2,200 feet deep, and 100 feet wide. About 550 acres of surface area in Forest County would be disturbed during development. The expected project life was 34 years [1].

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500-10,000
Start of the conflict:06/01/1975
End of the conflict:28/10/2003
Company names or state enterprises:Nicolet Minerals Company (NMC) from United States of America - Company proposing to build the mine
Rio Algom Ltd from United States of America - Purchased the mine
BHP Billiton (BHP) from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, Sokaogon Mole Lake Chippewa Community, Forest County Potawatomi Community, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:American Rivers, Federation of Fly Fishers, Wisconsin State Council of Trout Unlimited, Great Lakes Intertribal Council, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Midwest Treaty Network
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Soil contamination, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Local tribes as well as environmentalists, sports fishermen, rural people, and others from the Town of Nashville came together to form an unprecedented alliance during a time when these groups did not associate with one another or cooperate with each other. They came together to fight the Crandon mine project and protect their natural resources, especially the Wolf River. Intense opposition led to a moratorium on mining projects in Wisconsin and the tribes were able to buy Nicolet Minerals Company, resulting in the cancellation of the mining proposal. This case signaled to the rest of the world that Wisconsin is not a "mine-friendly" location and no mining companies have since tried to locate there.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Mining Fact Sheet: "Addressing Public Concerns with Wisconsin's Laws Governing Metallic Mining"
[click to view]

Nicolet Minerals Company v Town of Nashville 2002
[click to view]

Water Resources Development Act of 1986
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council: What You Should Know About Exxon’s Proposed Crandon/Mole Lake Mine [2]
[click to view]

Proposed Crandon Mine Information [1]
[click to view]

International Indian Treaty Council: Crandon mine victory in Wisconsin won by a historic alliance [3]
[click to view]

Defending a Common Home: Native/non-Native Alliances against Mining Corporations in Wisconsin- AL GEDICKS AND ZOLTÁN GROSSMAN [5]
[click to view]

The Crandon Mine Saga by Douglas Buege [4]
[click to view]

Crandon Mine Reports from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections library
[click to view]

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
[click to view]

Forest County Potawatomi Community
[click to view]

Sokaogon Chippewa Community
[click to view]

Crandon Mine Has New Owner- University of Wisconsin Madison student newspaper
[click to view]

What does the Crandon Mine Story Mean Today- WXPR news
[click to view]

Proposed Zinc and Copper Mine- McDonald Morrissey conducted review of groundwater modeling completed by Crandon Mining Company
[click to view]

Wisconsin Stewardship Network: Mining information and links
[click to view]

Cyanide Concerns for Crandon Mine- University of Wisconsin Madison student newspaper
[click to view]

EarthWINS designs websites for nonprofit organizations who work for peace, justice, human rights, senior citizens, differently-abled, women's rights, environment, renewable energy, fair labor practices, Native American Rights, Indigenous people's rights, reform of laws regulating corporations, and socially responsible, green business practices.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Al Gedicks describes the Crandon mine opposition and environmental justice victory
[click to view]

Crandon Mine and the Wolf River
[click to view]

Image of a similar mine to what was being proposed in the Town of Nashville
[click to view]

Branch of Wolf River near proposed Crandon mine site
[click to view]

Map of proposed mining area
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1430
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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