US state Wisconsin is set to allow companies to engage in copper and gold mining after Governor Scott Walker signed the ‘Mining for America’ bill into law.
The bill has been passed the Senate and the Assembly, and eliminates the mining moratorium in-place in the state on the issuing of permits for sulphide ore mining.
Walker said: “Mining is a vital piece of Wisconsin’s history and is at the core of our cultural identity.
“With this new bill, we’re paying tribute to our state’s rich roots in the field and creating new family-supporting careers in the mining industry, all while protecting our abundant and valuable natural resources.”
The bill requires the US Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the technology to be used at a proposed mine is compliant with air, groundwater, surface water, and solid/hazardous waste management laws.
Until now, mining applicants needed to prove similar mines had both operated and been shutdown elsewhere in the US for decades without causing environmental pollution.
Meanwhile, several environmental groups expressed displeasure with the legislation, stating that allowing mining in the region would endanger resources.
Commenting on the development, environmental organisation Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter mining chairman Dave Blouin said: "Repealing the 'Prove It First' law does nothing to change the fact that metallic sulphide mining is an unsafe and unproven industry that can’t back up its claims.
"This law will not result in prosperity for northern Wisconsin and threatens the natural resources that are the foundation of sustainable jobs from tourism, agriculture and our outdoor heritage."