In Minnesota, there exists a framework for establishing a new, metallic, non-ferrous mine
that involves a process of environmental review and application for various mine-related permits.
However, to date, no non-ferrous metallic mines have been developed, and the mine permitting
process in Minnesota remains untested. This report is intended to outline each of the permitting
steps and to assemble, under one cover, contact numbers and addresses for each of the regulatory
agencies that are involved in the process. It is important to stress that this document is intended to
serve as only a rudimentary guide in pointing out what types of permits could be anticipated and the
minimal length of time (under optimal conditions) that could be required before the mine-related
permits are granted. This document is only a “road map” that shows the possible paths for
permitting a new metallic mine - it should not be used as a substitute for contacting the various
The permitting process for a non-ferrous metallic mine in Minnesota involves dealing with
several agencies that include: 1) Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Division of Lands and
Minerals, Division of Water, and Office of Budget and Management Services: Review Section); 2)
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (both Air and Water divisions); 3) United States Army Corps
of Engineers; 4) local government units; and 5) possibly the United States Forest Service (depending
on the location of the mine site). Other agencies that are involved in the process, either directly or
indirectly, are also discussed in this report. Although environmental regulations are strong, each of
these agencies are willing to work together to help guide mining companies through the
environmental review and permitting process to allow for responsible development in an
environmentally safe manner.
An environmental review, consisting of a Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet
(EAW) and Scoping Decision, followed by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), is mandatory
and is one of the first actions that must be completed before any mine-related permits can be granted.
There are several background studies, such as waste characterization and other monitoring studies,
that will need to be either completed or initiated prior to beginning the environmental review.
Concurrent with the environmental review, action will need to be taken on applications for at least
eight major permits. Most of these permits will need to be obtained before starting construction of
a new mine and auxiliary facilities and include: 1) Permit to Mine (accompanied by a Wetland
Replacement Plan); 2) Part 70 Air Quality Operating Permit and NSR Construction Permit; 3)
NPDES/SDS Wastewater Permit(s); 4) Section 404 Permit for disturbances to wetlands; 5) Water
Appropriation Permit(s); 6) Public Waters Work Permit; 7) Dam Safety Permit; and 8) NPDES/SDS
Storm Water Permit for Construction Activity. Action on the first four permits should begin early
in the process as some of these permits could take up to 0.5-2.0 years before decisions can be made -
decisions on the permits are held in abeyance until a decision is made on the adequacy of the EIS.
The purpose of the EIS is to inform the regulatory agencies of possible alternatives that they need
to consider when making decisions on whether to grant or deny the mine-related permits. In
addition to these permits, another major permit that could be required is a Lease to Mine, obtained
from the Bureau of Land Management/United States Forest Service- if the mine site is located on
Federal mineral rights.
In summary, there are numerous actions that must be initiated and completed before a nonferrous
metallic mine can be permitted in Minnesota. These actions include: pre-application background studies, environmental review (scoping EAW and EIS), permit applications, public
comment periods, agency comment periods, and finally, decisions on the permits. Under favorable
conditions all of these actions could be achieved in 2.5 to 3.0 years. It is up to the proposer to be
organized, persistent, professional, and sensitive to public concerns. Each of the regulatory agencies
stress that the project proposer contacts them early, hire a competent consultant, and keep them and
the public informed of their actions.
This Technical Report includes a pdf version of the report itself (TR-2002-20.pdf), which was made available in 2015, and two additional pdf files that were uploaded in 2019 (TR-2002-20 PLATE 1 BW.pdf and TR-2002-20 PLATE 1 COLOR.pdf). Plate 1, available in both black-and-white and color, is referred to in the report and belongs with it.
Severson, Mark J.
Required Metallic Exploration, Mining, Processing Permits in Minnesota - The Who, What, Where, and When to Non-Ferrous Metallic Mine Permitting.
University of Minnesota Duluth.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
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