Legislative committee approves lifting mining ban

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee has signed off on a Republican bill that would end Wisconsin's nearly 20-year ban on gold, silver and nickel mining.

Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill in 1998 that requires sulfide mining applicants to prove a similar mine has operated in North America for 10 years without causing pollution and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without causing pollution. Gov. Scott Walker voted for the measure as a member of the Assembly.

The bill's chief sponsors, Rep. Rob Hutton and Sen. Tom Tiffany, say lifting the prohibition will help northern Wisconsin's economy.

The Republican-controlled Assembly Labor Committee approved the bill 6-3 Tuesday despite Democrats' warnings that lifting the ban will lead to devastating pollution.

The vote clears the way for an Assembly floor vote Thursday.

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