MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign a bill lifting Wisconsin’s moratorium on gold and silver mining.

The Republican governor is scheduled to sign the “Mining for America” bill Monday in Rhinelander.

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Walker voted to impose the moratorium when he was in the state Assembly in 1998. But his spokesman, Tom Evenson, has said Walker believes mining can be done without harming the environment.

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Under current state law, sulfide mining applicants had to prove that similar mines have operated and been closed in North America without polluting. Wisconsin regulators have never issued a final determination that any mining applicant has satisfied the requirements, leading critics to label the requirements a de facto ban on sulfide mining.

The new bill eliminates the requirements. It won’t go into effect for six months.

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