UW-Superior student research project on the GTAC mine in Northern Wisconsin - Sep 19, 2013 - University News - UW-Superior News and Events

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UW-Superior student research project on the GTAC mine in Northern Wisconsin

Posted on Sep 19, 2013
A UW-Superior student research survey regarding the GTAC mine concludes a summer-long project.
click to enlarge
Zamira Simkins associate professor of Business and Economics (LEFT) and Aleksei Bogdanov work on research project.

Zamira Simkins associate professor of Business and Economics (LEFT) and Aleksei Bogdanov work on research project.

Link: Detailed survey summary

Sept. 19, 2013

Aleksei Bogdanov, an undergraduate student with a double major in transportation and logistics and economics at UW-Superior, and Dr. Zamira Simkins, an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Business and Economics, finally released the results of their public opinion survey on the GTAC mine. The survey was a product of an undergraduate research project that was made possible by the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship awarded to Aleksei by the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

When asked how the two researchers came up with an idea for this project, Aleksei stated that during the school year he wrote a research paper on mining in Wisconsin for a legal studies class and that propelled his interest in researching the potential economic and environmental impacts of the proposed GTAC mine. When an opportunity presented, he and his mentor applied for the UW-Superior Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which allowed Aleksei to devote time to collecting survey data. The product of their work was a public opinion study of the GTAC mine.

When asked about his research experience, Aleksei said "I had a lot of fun actually. I managed to travel to Ashland and Bayfield counties and talked to people and obtained some additional information and they emailed me and sent me links." He said he came to UW-Superior because of the transportation and logistics program and loved the area for its rich shipping history and tradition. He hopes to work in that industry when his academic work is complete.

Simkins had high praise for her student this summer. "I think he did a tremendous job, he made all phone calls by himself, which was a lot of work. It takes communication skills and dedication to persuade people to answer surveys like that."

GTAC Mine Public Opinion Survey

Aleksei Bogdanov and Zamira Simkins, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Assessing the Impacts of Gogebic Taconite Iron Ore Mine on the Economy of Northern Wisconsin.

A GTAC company proposed to develop an iron ore mine along the Penokee Range in Ashland and Iron counties in northwestern Wisconsin. The proposal sparked heated debates over the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of the mine. The company hired consultants to conduct economic and environmental impact studies of the mine, which will be reviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources before a mining permit can be issued. Local residents and organizations continue to be apprehensive, however, and actively voice their individual concerns. Yet, no formal public opinion studies have been conducted. The primary objective of this survey was to discover and provide unbiased information about public views on the mine.

The survey was designed and carried out by an independent team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, including Dr. Zamira Simkins, an Assistant Professor of Economics, and Aleksei Bogdanov, an undergraduate student. The survey consisted of twenty questions, five of which were mandatory, multi-part, target research questions; while the remaining questions primarily collected demographic data. The same 20 questions were given to two study groups: (1) a self-selected group of people who completed an open-to-the-public online survey, and (2) a random sample of households from Ashland and Iron counties in Wisconsin.

The purpose of creating and surveying a random sample of households was to control for the selection error of the self-reported group and to collect as unbiased results as possible. Between July 16, 2013 and August 19, 2013, a total of 893 self-reported surveys were initiated, out of which 862 contained responses to all mandatory questions. In the random sample, a total of 200 households were contacted over the phone and 102 provided responses to all mandatory questions. A summary of results for each group of respondents and questions pertaining to the mine is presented below.

Key results:

Link: Detailed summary of GTAC survey results

· Respondents in both samples report that they are fairly knowledgeable about the mine: mean score of 7/10 and 7.7/10 in random and self-reported sample respectively.

  • · Most respondents are against the mine. According to the relatively unbiased, random sample results, 44.12% of the sample respondents "absolutely oppose" it and 17.65% "generally oppose it."
  • · According to the random sample results, most respondents believe that the mine will have a "mostly negative" impact on the region's transportation infrastructure and "only negative" impacts on the environment in general and more specifically on outdoor recreation, air quality, soil quality, surface and underground water quality, forestry and wetlands, and fish and wildlife.
  • · According to the random sample results, most respondents believe that the mine will have a "somewhat positive" impact on the local economy, businesses, and employment opportunities.
  • · When asked if they would be interested in working at the mine, 66.34% of the random sample respondents reported that they are "absolutely not" interested in working there.
  • · Distribution of survey respondents by industry suggests that there are very few mining workers residing in the region. This poses a question of whether the local labor supply can meet the mine's potential demand for labor, or whether workers would need to be hired from outside the region.

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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