“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.
Issue orders directing particular prospectors or operators to comply with the provisions and purposes of this chapter.
Supervise and provide for such educational programs as appear necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
At its own expense, with the staff, equipment and material under its control, or by contract with others, take such actions as are necessary for the reclamation of abandoned project sites.
Issue prospecting and mining permits.
Issue licenses and approvals necessary for bulk sampling.
Promulgate rules regulating the production, storage and disposal of radioactive waste from exploration, bulk sampling, prospecting, or mining after seeking comments from the department of health services. At a minimum, rules promulgated under this subsection shall achieve the margin of safety provided in applicable federal statutes and regulations. If the department promulgates rules under this subsection, the department shall investigate the need for standards more restrictive than the applicable federal statutes and regulations.
Promulgate rules by which the department may grant an exemption, modification or variance, either making a requirement more or less restrictive, from any rule promulgated under chs. 289
and this chapter, if the exemption, modification or variance does not result in the violation of any federal or state environmental law or endanger public health, safety or welfare or the environment.
Promulgate rules with respect to minimizing, segregating, backfilling and marketing of mining waste.
Notwithstanding chs. 289
, promulgate rules establishing groundwater quality standards or groundwater quantity standards, or both, for any prospecting or mining activity, including standards for any mining waste site.
Require all persons under its jurisdiction to submit such informational reports as the department deems necessary for performing its duties under this chapter.
Monitor environmental changes concurrently with the permit holder under s. 293.45 (3)
or 293.49 (7)
, and for such additional period of time after the full bond is released under s. 293.63 (3)
as is necessary for the site to return to a state of environmental stability. The department may conduct independent studies to monitor environmental changes.
“Driller" means a person who performs core, rotary, percussion or other drilling involved in exploration for nonferrous metallic minerals.
“Parcel" means an identified section, fractional section or government lot.
“Termination" means filling of drillholes and reclamation and revegetation of drilling sites.
All persons intending to engage in exploration, or who contract for the services of drillers for purposes of exploration, shall be licensed by the department. Exploration licenses shall be issued annually by the department, and shall be applied for on forms provided by the department. The department shall provide copies of the application form for an exploration license to the state geologist upon issuance of the license. The department shall, by rule, establish an annual license fee plus a schedule of additional fees based on the number of holes drilled. The level of fees shall reflect the department's actual cost in administering this section. The fees set under this subsection may be adjusted for persons to reflect the payment of fees for the same services to meet other requirements.
Applications for licenses shall be accompanied by a bond in the amount of $5,000 conditioned on faithful performance of the requirements of the department relating to termination.
The department may require that the amount of the bond be increased at any time, if the department determines that a licensee's current level of activity makes it likely that the bond would be inadequate to fund the termination of all holes drilled for which the licensee is responsible.