July 10, 2013

Miner Gogebic yanks security firm at drill site, pending Wisconsin license

Mine guards on the site of the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine in Northwestern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range. Gogebic officials hired the armed guards from Bulletproof Security in Arizona and said Tuesday that, despite criticism, the guards will continue patrolling the site. Courtesy of Rob Ganson

Update: July 12Video of June 11 incident has been removed at Wisconsin Public Radio story, but remains available at madison.com. Warning: Contains graphic language.

Gogebic Taconite, blasted this week for its use of armed, paramilitary-style guards from an Arizona security firm, announced Wednesday it is temporarily suspending use of Bulletproof Security because the company is not licensed to do business in Wisconsin.

Bill Williams, GTAC president, said the company is licensed in Arizona but not in Wisconsin. “We understand they have applied for the appropriate Wisconsin license but not yet had their application approved.

“GTAC has suspended use of this company’s services at our site until the necessary approvals have been granted. We have been utilizing multiple security arrangements and will rely on those other assets until this vendor is licensed.”

A day earlier, before news of the licensing issue surfaced, the mining company had declared that the paramilitary-style patrols would continue despite widespread criticism.

Brittany Lewin, a spokesperson for the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, sent the following response Wednesday morning when contacted by WCIJ:

“Bulletproof Securities has contacted the Department and has indicated its intention to submit a license application.”

Lewin did not say when the company had applied but said processing time for a Private Detective/Security Guard Agency license is two to three days.