Mining WI Senate vote

In this September 1996 file photo, the Flambeau open pit copper mine is viewed in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. Four years after relaxing the state's iron mining laws, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to lift a moratorium on copper and gold mining, a ban Gov. Scott Walker helped impose as a legislator. Wisconsin law requires sulfide mining applicants to prove a similar mine has operated for 10 years and been closed for 10 years without polluting. No companies have provided any examples. 

RICK WOOD, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL FILE

The state Senate looks ready to send Gov. Scott Walker a bill rolling back a two-decade-old restriction on mining for metals such as gold, copper or zinc.

The Senate was scheduled to convene in session Tuesday.

Among the bills to be taken up is one to lift the state's "Prove it First" requirement for sulfide mining.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson  and lawmakers -- including Walker, then a state representative -- enacted the requirement in 1998, which requires sulfide mining applicants to prove a similar mine has operated in North America for a decade without polluting and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without polluting.

The state Department of Natural Resources has never found any mining applications met those standards, leading critics to brand the statutes a "moratorium" on mining.

Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, sponsored the bill to scrap the requirement, calling it an impediment to creating much-needed mining jobs in economically stagnant northern Wisconsin.

The bill passed the state Assembly earlier this month.