“Mineral exploration" or “exploration", unless the context requires otherwise, means the on-site geologic examination from the surface of an area by core, rotary, percussion or other drilling, where the diameter of the hole does not exceed 18 inches, for the purpose of searching for nonferrous metallic minerals or establishing the nature of a known nonferrous metallic mineral deposit, and includes associated activities such as clearing and preparing sites or constructing roads for drilling.
“Exploration license" means the license required under s. 293.21 (2)
as a condition of engaging in exploration.
“Merchantable by-product" means all waste soil, rock, mineral, liquid, vegetation and other material directly resulting from or displaced by the mining, cleaning or preparation of nonferrous metallic minerals during mining operations which are determined by the department to be marketable upon a showing of marketability made by the operator, accompanied by a verified statement by the operator of his or her intent to sell such material within 3 years from the time it results from or is displaced by mining. If after 3 years from the time merchantable by-product results from or is displaced by mining such material has not been transported off the mining site, it shall be considered and regulated as refuse unless removal is continuing at a rate of more than 12,000 cubic yards per year.
“Mining" or “mining operation" means all or part of the process involved in the mining of nonferrous metallic minerals, other than for exploration, bulk sampling, or prospecting, including commercial extraction, agglomeration, beneficiation, construction of roads, removal of overburden and the production of refuse.
“Mining plan" means the proposal for the mining of the mining site.
“Mining permit" means the permit which is required of all operators as a condition precedent to commencing mining at a mining site.
“Mining site" means the surface area disturbed by a mining operation, including the surface area from which the nonferrous metallic minerals or refuse or both have been removed, the surface area covered by refuse, all lands disturbed by the construction or improvement of haulageways, and any surface areas in which structures, equipment, materials and any other things used in the mining operation are situated.
“Nonferrous metallic mineral" means an ore or other earthen material to be excavated from the natural deposits on or in the earth for its metallic content but not primarily for its iron oxide content.
“Operator" means any person who is engaged in, or who has applied for or holds a permit to engage in, prospecting or mining, whether individually, jointly or through subsidiaries, agents, employees or contractors.
“Person" means an individual, owner, operator, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, municipality, interstate agency, state agency or federal agency.
“Principal shareholder" means any person who owns at least 10 percent of the beneficial ownership of an operator.
“Prospecting" means engaging in the examination of an area for the purpose of determining the quality and quantity of nonferrous metallic minerals, other than for exploration or bulk sampling but including the obtaining of a nonferrous metallic mineral sample, by such physical means as excavating, trenching, construction of shafts, ramps and tunnels and other means, other than for exploration or bulk sampling, which the department, by rule, identifies, and the production of prospecting refuse and other associated activities. “Prospecting" shall not include such activities when the activities are, by themselves, intended for and capable of commercial exploitation of the underlying nonferrous ore body. However, the fact that prospecting activities and construction may have use ultimately in mining, if approved, shall not mean that prospecting activities and construction constitute mining within the meaning of sub. (9)
, provided such activities and construction are reasonably related to prospecting requirements.
“Prospecting permit" means the permit which is required of all persons as a condition precedent to commencing prospecting at a location.
“Prospecting plan" means the proposal for prospecting of the prospecting site.
“Prospecting site" means the lands on which prospecting is actually conducted as well as those lands on which physical disturbance will occur as a result of such activity.
“Prospector" means any person engaged in prospecting.
“Reclamation" means the process by which an area physically or environmentally affected by prospecting or mining is rehabilitated to either its original state or, if this is shown to be physically or economically impracticable or environmentally or socially undesirable, to a state that provides long-term environmental stability. Reclamation shall provide the greatest feasible protection to the environment and shall include, but is not limited to, the criteria for reclamation set forth in s. 293.13 (2) (c)
“Reclamation plan" means the proposal for the reclamation of the prospecting or mining site which must be approved by the department under s. 293.45
prior to the issuance of the prospecting or mining permit.
“Refuse" means all waste soil, rock, mineral, liquid, vegetation and other material, except merchantable by-products, directly resulting from or displaced by the prospecting or mining and from the cleaning or preparation of nonferrous metallic minerals during prospecting or mining operations, and shall include all waste materials deposited on or in the prospecting or mining site from other sources.
“Related person" means any person that owns or operates a mining site in the United States and that is one of the following when an application for a mining permit is submitted to the department:
A person that holds more than a 30 percent ownership interest in the applicant.
A subsidiary or affiliate of the applicant in which the applicant holds more than a 30 percent ownership interest.
“Unsuitability" means that the land proposed for prospecting or surface mining is not suitable for such activity because the prospecting or surface mining activity itself may reasonably be expected to destroy or irreparably damage either of the following:
Habitat required for survival of species of vegetation or wildlife designated as endangered through prior inclusion in rules adopted by the department, if such endangered species cannot be firmly reestablished elsewhere.
Unique features of the land, as determined by state or federal designation and incorporated in rules adopted by the department, as any of the following, which cannot have their unique characteristic preserved by relocation or replacement elsewhere:
Other lands of a type designated as unique or unsuitable for prospecting or surface mining.
“Waters of the state" includes those portions of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior within the boundaries of this state, and all lakes, bays, rivers, streams, springs, ponds, wells, impounding reservoirs, marshes, watercourses, drainage systems and other surface water or groundwater, natural or artificial, public or private, within this state or its jurisdiction.
“Water supply" means the sources and their surroundings from which water is supplied for drinking or domestic purposes.
Mine effect responsibility.
The department shall serve as the central unit of state government to ensure that the air, lands, waters, plants, fish and wildlife affected by prospecting or mining in this state will receive the greatest practicable degree of protection and reclamation. The administration of occupational health and safety laws and rules that apply to mining shall remain exclusively the responsibility of the department of safety and professional services. The powers and duties of the geological and natural history survey under s. 36.25 (6)
shall remain exclusively the responsibility of the geological and natural history survey. Nothing in this section prevents the department of safety and professional services and the geological and natural history survey from cooperating with the department in the exercise of their respective powers and duties.
History: 1973 c. 318
; 1975 c. 41
; 1995 a. 27
, ss. 4332
and 9116 (5)
; 1995 a. 227
; Stats. 1995 s. 293.11; 2011 a. 32
This section is a statement of purpose and does not grant authority to issue a ban on mining activity. Rusk County Citizen Action Group, Inc. v. DNR, 203 Wis. 2d 1
, 552 N.W.2d 110
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-3125
Department duties. 293.13(1)(a)
Adopt rules, including rules for prehearing discovery, implementing and consistent with this chapter.
Establish by rule after consulting with the metallic mining council minimum qualifications for applicants for prospecting and mining permits. Such minimum qualifications shall ensure that each operator in the state is competent to conduct mining and reclamation and each prospector in the state is competent to conduct prospecting in a fashion consistent with the purposes of this chapter. The department shall also consider such other relevant factors bearing upon minimum qualifications, including but not limited to, any past forfeitures of bonds posted pursuant to mining activities in any state.
The department by rule after consulting with the metallic mining council shall adopt minimum standards for exploration, prospecting, mining and reclamation to ensure that such activities in this state will be conducted in a manner consistent with the purposes and intent of this chapter. The minimum standards may classify exploration, prospecting and mining activities according to type of minerals involved and stage of progression in the operation.
Minimum standards for exploration, bulk sampling, prospecting, and mining shall include the following:
Grading and stabilization of excavation, sides and benches.
Adequate diversion and drainage of water from the exploration, bulk sampling, prospecting, or mining site.
Adequate covering of all pollutant-bearing minerals or materials.
Removal and stockpiling, or other measures to protect topsoils prior to exploration, bulk sampling, prospecting, or mining.
Identification and prevention of pollution as defined in s. 281.01 (10)
resulting from leaching of waste materials.
Identification and prevention of significant environmental pollution.
Minimum standards for reclamation of exploration and bulk sampling sites, where appropriate, and for prospecting and mining sites shall conform to s. 293.01 (23)
and include provision for the following:
Disposal of all toxic and hazardous wastes, refuse, tailings and other solid waste in solid or hazardous waste disposal facilities licensed under ch. 289
or otherwise in an environmentally sound manner.
Sealing off tunnels, shafts or other underground openings, and prevention of seepage in amounts which may be expected to create a safety, health or environmental hazard, unless the applicant can demonstrate alternative uses of tunnels, shafts or other openings which do not endanger public health and safety and which conform to applicable environmental protection laws and rules.
Management, impoundment or treatment of all underground or surface runoff waters from open pits or underground prospecting or mining sites so as to prevent soil erosion, flooding, damage to agricultural lands or livestock, wild animals, pollution of surface or subsurface waters or damage to public health or safety.
Removal of all surface structures, unless they are converted to an alternate use.
Prevention or reclamation of substantial surface subsidence.
Preservation of topsoil for purposes of future use in reclamation.
Revegetation to stabilize disturbed soils and prevent air and water pollution, with the objective of reestablishing a variety of populations of plants and animals indigenous to the area immediately prior to exploration, bulk sampling, prospecting, or mining.
The minimum standards adopted under this subsection shall also provide that if any of the following situations may reasonably be expected to occur during or subsequent to prospecting or mining, the prospecting or mining permit shall be denied:
Landslides or substantial deposition from the proposed operation in stream or lake beds which cannot be feasibly prevented.
Significant surface subsidence which cannot be reclaimed because of the geologic characteristics present at the proposed site.
Hazards resulting in irreparable damage to any of the following, which cannot be prevented under the requirements of this chapter, avoided to the extent applicable by removal from the area of hazard or mitigated by purchase or by obtaining the consent of the owner:
Irreparable environmental damage to lake or stream bodies despite adherence to the requirements of this chapter. This subdivision does not apply to an activity which the department has authorized pursuant to statute, except that the destruction or filling in of a lake bed shall not be authorized notwithstanding any other provision of law.
See also ch. NR 182
, Wis. adm. code.
The DNR is not authorized by this section to issue a rule banning all sulfide mining. The requirement to adopt standards for a mining permit application process is inconsistent with a ban. Rusk County Citizen Action Group, Inc. v. DNR, 203 Wis. 2d 1
, 552 N.W.2d 110
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-3125
The department may:
Hold hearings relating to any aspect of the administration of this chapter and, in connection therewith, compel the attendance of witnesses and production of evidence.
Cooperate or contract with the geological and natural history survey to secure necessary scientific, technical, administrative and operations services, including research, projects and laboratory facilities.