By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — During a special meeting called Tuesday, members of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors passed two measures to help control future mining operations in the area, three months before a decades-old mining moratorium will be eliminated in Wisconsin.

The first proposal passed outlines a number of rules that mining companies must follow in Marathon County to minimize environmental impacts and keep operations at a set distance from private homes. Under the new rules, mining companies would be required to pay a $50,000 application fee and contribute $15,000 to a groundwater trust fund. Mining would also be prohibited within 800 feet of land owned by municipalities, and would be responsible for costs incurred by the county to review the permit application.

The second proposal creates a metallic mining committee that will ensure mining companies doing business in Marathon County are following local guidelines, along with rules set at the state and federal levels. The seven-member committee will be made up of at least two county board members, two local government officials from areas potentially impacted by a future mine, and representatives from business groups, environmental groups, and citizens. The committee will be chaired by a member of the county board who sits on the environmental resources committee.

Among other responsibilities, the committee will be tasked with analyzing the implications and impacts any proposed mine would have on the county, the county’s residents, and its resources.

The potential mining site is in the town of Easton, just east of Wausau.

Act 134, which removes barriers to mining operations in Wisconsin, will go into effect July 1. Supporters say the bill will be a financial boon for the state’s economy, while critics are concerned about potential environmental damage mining could cause.