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State officials tout former Ladysmith mine as environmental success

LADYSMITH, WI (WTAQ) - As the controversy rages on over Gogebic Taconite's proposed iron ore mine, Wisconsin officials are touting a former Ladysmith mine as a true environmental success story.

This week, officials from Minnesota and the Gopher State's Iron Range toured the now-closed Flambeau mine with Wisconsin DNR staffers. 

Tom Landwehr of Minnesota's DNR said they wanted to see what a closed mine looks like, as they continue to work on their own environmental protection measures. What they saw were nature trails and buildings converted to other uses including a DNR office. 

The Flambeau Mine operated from 1993 to '97, producing copper and zinc. Its reclamation was finished in 1999. 

In the ensuing years, environmentalists said the Flambeau River remained polluted due to the mine -- and they filed suit. 

Last July, Federal Judge Barbara Crabb said Flambeau Mining deserved "commendation, not penalties" for its superior environmental care in operating the mine. Still, Crabb said there were small discharges which violated the Clean Water Act, and she fined the firm $275.