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Forest County Potawatomie Community, Wisconsin

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The Wisconsin Senate Environmental Resources Committee voted 4-1 May 31 to recommend the full Senate a measure banning use of cyanide in mining metals. Gus Frank, chairman of the Potawatomi Tribe in Forest County, said using cyanide was not worth any risk of harm to the environment. "No mining company can ensure that pipes will never leak, pumps will never break, trucks will never crash, landfills will never leak and floods will never occur." Supporters said they hope the action would, in effect, kill plans by Nicolet Minerals for an underground zinc and copper mine near Crandon. Plans call for use of a water-based cyanide solution in the process. The company is seeking local, state and federal permits for the mine. After seven years, a state review of the project is only 75 percent complete. Mines where cyanide spills have occurred used an open-pit mining method. Crandon would not have open pits but would use an indoor facility where ore would be treated in a water-based cyanide solution. Dave Blouin, a spokesman for the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter, said the cyanide ban would help safeguard the environment. He said the four senators who voted for it were "putting our local tourism economy and environment before mining company profits."