By Raymond Neupert/South Metro Observer

WAUSAU, Wis. – Marathon County officials are holding a public hearing Thursday on a proposed ordinance to regulate how metallic mining sites could be operated in the area.

That ordinance comes in response to state rules put into place after a mining company found ore deposits near the town of Easton. That site is known as the Reef Deposit, and may contain gold and copper.

County board chairman Kurt Gibbs says the county is seeking to codify how best to regulate mining in the area, without stepping on state and federal regulations.

“It sets the parameters on when mining can take place, it also puts into place financial assurances for the citizens,” Gibbs said. “We want to protect the infrastructure, the roads, protecting the valuation of the property and protecting against any potential infiltration on private wells in the area.”

The aim, Gibbs said, is to cover anything that the county board saw that might not be covered by the state.

One thing that the county cannot regulate is how the mine might impact the ecology and environment surrounding the potential site.

“That is clearly under the jurisdiction of the state and the DNR. So there’s nothing the county can do other than look over the areas in which is has authority,” Gibbs said.

The location of the potential mining site is along the Eau Claire River not far from the Dells of the Eau Claire county park.

The current proposal requires any company looking to mine to provide an environmental impact statement. Companies would also be responsible to pay for any costs that the county would incur in regulating and approving the mine, including staff salaries and court fees. Companies would also be required to pay a total of $65,000 in application fees and funds to repair any wells that are damaged by the mine.

The proposed ordinance will come up for discussion at a public meeting of the county’s Land Conservation and Zoning committee in the Assembly room at the Marathon County Courthouse at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.