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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 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.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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Ron Seely joined the Center as a part-time reporter, editor and student mentor in June 2013 after nearly 35 years as an award-winning environmental reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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