In November 2001, Rio Tinto secured a “Notice of Completion (COC)” from Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirming that it had successfully reclaimed its Flambeau copper mine. This enterprise generated massive opposition by a coalition of Native Americans, environmental groups, hunters and fisherfolk from the late eighties onwards. Nonetheless, Rio Tinto was allowed to mine thousands of tonnes of copper, gold and silver between 1993 and 1997.
Over the past 10 years a number of those who led the earlier unsuccessful struggle have asserted that the COC was based on unreliable, if not fraudulent data. They said the UK company should not be allowed to walk away from the project claiming it had done everything legal and necessary to clean up its mess.
In particular, the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC), along with the Center for Biological Diversity, pointed out that one of the small rivers (“Stream C”), downstream of the mining operations, continued to contain unacceptably high levels of toxic metals. Now the state Department for Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a statement which appears to back this claim.