The bill defines “bulk sampling” as excavating in a potential mining site by
removing less than 10,000 tons of material to assess the quality and quantity of
nonferrous metallic mineral deposits and to collect and analyze data to prepare an
application for a mining permit or other approval. Under the bill, bulk sampling does
not constitute prospecting, and prospecting activities do not include bulk sampling.
The bill allows a person who intends to engage in bulk sampling to file a bulk
sampling plan with DNR. A person who files a bulk sampling plan must 1) describe
the bulk sampling site and the methods to be used for bulk sampling; 2) submit a plan
for controlling surface erosion that identifies how adverse impacts to plant and
wildlife habitats will be avoided or minimized; 3) submit a plan for revegetation that
describes how adverse environmental impacts will be avoided or minimized; 4)
provide the estimated time for completing bulk sampling and revegetation of the site;
5) describe any known adverse environmental impacts that are likely to be caused
by bulk sampling and how those impacts will be avoided or minimized; and 6)
describe any adverse effects that the bulk sampling might have on any historic
property or on any scenic or recreational areas and plans to avoid or minimize those
adverse effects. The bill also requires a person to submit, with the bulk sampling
plan, a $5,000 bond. DNR may require the amount of the bond to be increased if it
is unlikely that the bond will be adequate to fund the state's cost for completing the
The bill requires DNR, within 14 days of receipt of a bulk sampling plan, to
identify in writing any kind of approval that DNR issues that is needed to conduct
the proposed bulk sampling, such as a wastewater discharge permit or a permit for
a discharge into wetlands, and any waivers, exemptions, or exceptions to those
approvals that may be available. The bill also requires a person who has submitted
a bulk sampling plan to submit all applications for approvals and all applications for
waivers, exemptions, or exceptions to approvals for the bulk sampling at one time.
The bill specifies deadlines for DNR to act on approvals needed to conduct bulk
sampling. When a person who files a bulk sampling plan applies for an approval or
a waiver, exemption, or exception to an approval, the application is considered to be
complete on the 30th day after DNR receives the application, unless before that day
DNR informs the person that the application is not complete. Once an application
is complete, DNR must act within 30 days on an application for a waiver, exemption,
or exception to an approval, for a determination that an activity is below the
threshold that requires an approval, or for a determination of eligibility for coverage
under a general permit or a registration permit. For other approvals, DNR must act
within 60 days after the application is complete, except that DNR must act on an
approval for an individual permit for which federal law requires an opportunity for
public comment or a hearing, such as a wastewater discharge permit, within 180
The bill provides that DNR is not required to prepare an environmental impact
statement (EIS) for an approval required for bulk sampling. Finally, the bill requires
DNR to act on any required construction site erosion control or storm water
management approval required for bulk sampling, even if DNR has authorized a
local program to issue approvals for construction site erosion control or storm water
Application, review, and permitting process
Under current law, a person who proposes to prospect or mine for nonferrous
metallic minerals must obtain a prospecting or mining permit and any other permit,
license, certification, or other authorization (approval) that is required under the
environmental and natural resources laws, for example wastewater discharge
permits, high capacity well approvals, and permits for discharges into wetlands.
This bill makes changes to certain parts of the preapplication, application,
review, and hearing process for these permits and approvals.
Under current law, a person who intends to apply for a permit to prospect or
mine for nonferrous metallic minerals must notify DNR of that intent, and may not
collect data intended to be used to support the application before submitting the
notice of intent to apply. DNR is required to provide public notice when it receives
a notice of intent to apply for a prospecting or mining permit, and is required to
receive and consider public comments within 45 days after giving the public notice.
After considering public comments, DNR must tell the person who filed the notice
of intent what data DNR believes is needed to support an application for a
prospecting or mining permit and the methodologies that must be used to collect that
data, along with certain other information relating to groundwater in the area and
to other approvals that are required for the proposed prospecting or mining project.
This bill requires a person who intends to apply for a prospecting or mining
permit to provide DNR with a notice of intent at least 12 months before filing an
application for a prospecting or mining permit. The bill removes the prohibition on
collecting data before filing the notice of intent to apply. The bill requires DNR, upon
the request of a person who intends to file a notice of intent to apply, to review the
person's proposed methodology for collecting data, and to either approve the
proposed methodology or provide the methodology that DNR requires to be used.
Under the bill, DNR may assess the person a fee to cover DNR's costs in reviewing
or providing these methodologies. The bill also provides that, if DNR holds a public
informational hearing to solicit the required public comments on a notice of intent
to apply, the hearing must be held within the 45-day period for soliciting public
comments. In addition, the bill requires DNR to inform the person within 90 days
after the 45-day period for soliciting public comments of the required data and
methodologies for the application, the information that should be included in the
person's environmental impact report, and the information DNR will need to prepare
an EIS. Under the bill, DNR must begin the process of entering into a memorandum
of understanding with the applicant, the U.S. army corps of engineers, and other
relevant federal agencies before informing the person of the required data and
methodologies for the application and providing the other required information. The
bill provides that such a memorandum of understanding may include an agreement
between DNR and the applicant regarding timelines for the permitting process.
Application process — predictive modeling
Currently, under rules promulgated by DNR, a person who wishes to operate
a solid waste disposal facility for a nonferrous metallic mineral mining operation
must submit information based on predictive modeling to demonstrate that there is
a reasonable certainty that the facility will not violate groundwater quality
standards. This bill provides that, if DNR requires an applicant for a nonferrous
metallic mining permit to conduct modeling to determine whether the proposed
mining operation's waste site complies with groundwater or surface water quality
standards, DNR may not require the applicant to examine a period longer than the
proposed operating period of the waste site plus 250 years.
Application process — financial assurance requirement
Under current law, an operator of a nonferrous mining or prospecting operation
must file a bond, cash, certificates of deposit, or government securities with DNR to
ensure that the operator will be able to cover the cost of the reclamation plan for the
mining or prospecting site. An operator must also submit a certificate of insurance
certifying that the operator has a liability insurance policy in place that adequately
covers personal injury and property damage and must maintain proof of financial
responsibility for complying with the long-term care requirements of the mining or
prospecting site after the site is closed. Under rules promulgated by DNR, an
applicant for a nonferrous metallic mining permit must also create and maintain an
irrevocable trust in perpetuity to ensure the availability of funds for preventative
and remedial activities, such as responding to a spill of a hazardous substance at the
This bill limits the forms of proof of financial responsibility for long-term care
that DNR may require to a bond, cash, certificates of deposit, government securities,
or insurance. The bill provides that DNR may not require an operator to provide a
form of financial assurance other than those listed in the statutes.
This bill creates a timeline for DNR to review an application for a prospecting
or mining permit, request additional information from the applicant, and prepare a
draft environmental impact statement, a draft prospecting or mining permit, and
other draft approvals.
Under the bill, DNR has 180 days after an applicant submits an application for
a prospecting or mining permit, an environmental impact report, and any
application for other related approvals, to provide comments and request additional
information. If DNR requests additional information, it has 90 days after the
applicant submits additional information to again provide comments and request
additional information. If DNR requests this additional information, it has 180 days
after the applicant submits additional information to prepare a draft environmental
impact statement, a draft prospecting or mining permit, and any other related draft
approvals. The applicant and DNR may agree to modify all or part of this timeline.
DNR may request additional information after these time periods expire, but may
not delay the application and review process based on a request for additional
If, during the 90-day period described above, the DNR secretary determines
that the applicant has made a substantial modification to the mining or prospecting
plan that significantly changes the information necessary to prepare the
environmental impact statement or adequately review an application, DNR may
request additional information from the applicant. When the applicant submits
additional information, the timeline described above resets and begins again.
Issuing a mining permit — effects on other waters
Under current law, an applicant must obtain an approval for a high capacity
well if the applicant will withdraw groundwater for prospecting or mining or dewater
mines and if the capacity and rate of withdrawal or dewatering exceeds 100,000
gallons each day. Current law prohibits DNR from issuing an approval for a high
capacity well if the withdrawal of groundwater or the dewatering of mines will result
in the unreasonable detriment of public or private water supplies or the
unreasonable detriment of public rights in the waters of the state.
Under this bill, if DNR determines that the withdrawal of groundwater or the
dewatering of mines will result in the unreasonable detriment of public or private
water supplies or the unreasonable detriment of public rights in the waters of the
state, DNR must include conditions in the high capacity well approval or in the
prospecting or mining permit to ensure that those detriments will not occur. These
conditions may include a requirement that the applicant provide a replacement
water supply or temporarily augment the quantity of water in, or flowing into or
from, the affected body of water.
Hearing and review process
Under current law, DNR holds a public informational hearing on DNR's draft
EIS, after which DNR prepares a final EIS. DNR then conducts a master hearing
on the final EIS, the draft mining or prospecting permits that DNR has prepared, and
all other approvals that are required for the prospecting or mining project, to the
extent possible. Under current law, the provisions related to notice, hearing, and
comment in the nonferrous metallic mining law apply to any other needed approval,
unless the applicant fails to apply for an approval in time for it to be considered at
the master hearing. The master hearing includes both a contested case hearing, with
testimony under oath and the opportunity for cross-examination, and a public
informational hearing. After the master hearing, DNR either denies the application
for a prospecting or mining permit or approves the application and issues the permit
and related approvals.
This bill requires DNR to hold a public informational hearing on the draft
prospecting or mining permit, the draft EIS, and all other approvals that are related
to the prospecting or mining project, unless the application for a related approval is
filed too late to allow the approval to be considered at the hearing in which case
another public informational hearing is held using the same procedure as for the
mining or prospecting permit hearing. The hearing does not include a contested case
hearing. Before the hearing, DNR must make the applications for the permit and
any additional approvals, and the draft EIS, the draft permit, any other draft
approvals, available for review in the city, town, or village in which the proposed
prospecting or mining site is located. DNR must also publish a notice with the date,
time, and location of the public informational hearing, and accept public comments
within 45 days after the notice is published. DNR must publish the hearing notice
within 30 days of completing the draft EIS and draft mining or prospecting permit
under the timeline described above.
Under current law, any person who is aggrieved by a DNR decision relating to
nonferrous metallic exploration, prospecting, or mining may request an
administrative contested case hearing, unless the matter was heard at the master
Under the bill, a person may not request a contested case hearing on a DNR
decision relating to exploration or bulk sampling. However, a person may request
a contested case hearing on a DNR decision relating to a mining or prospecting
permit, including a decision related to the EIS for the proposed prospecting or mining
operation or a decision on any approval related to the prospecting or mining permit
application. A person seeking such a contested case hearing must request the
hearing within 30 days after DNR issues the decision to approve or deny the mining
or prospecting permit. In addition, the bill requires the hearing examiner in such
a contested case hearing to issue a decision within 270 days after DNR approves or
denies the mining or prospecting permit. The hearing examiner may not issue an
order prohibiting an activity that is authorized by the DNR decision being reviewed
in the contested case hearing. Under the bill, a person seeking judicial review of a
decision in such a contested case hearing must bring the action within 30 days of the
decision. The bill also allows a person to request a contested case hearing on other
DNR decisions relating to prospecting or mining that are issued after DNR's final
decision to grant or deny a prospecting or mining permit. Under the bill, a person
seeking judicial review of a decision in a contested case hearing or of any DNR
decision relating to nonferrous metallic mining, prospecting, exploration, or bulk
sampling must bring the action in the court for the county in which the majority of
the mining or prospecting site is located or in which the majority of the exploration
or bulk sampling will occur.
This bill exempts nonferrous metallic mining from certain solid waste disposal
fees that are required under current law. Under current law, a generator of solid or
hazardous waste, including at a nonferrous metallic mining waste site, must
generally pay license and review fees; tonnage fees; groundwater and well
compensation fees; a solid waste facility siting board fee; a recycling fee; and an
environmental repair fee and repair surcharge. This bill exempts nonferrous
metallic mining waste sites from the review and license fees, tonnage fees, and
recycling fee. Under the bill, the operator of a mining waste site must continue to
pay the groundwater fee, the environmental repair fee and surcharge, and the solid
waste facility siting board fee.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
20.370 (2) (gh) of the statutes is amended to read:
(gh) Nonferrous metallic mining regulation and administration. 3
The amounts in the schedule for the administration, regulation,
and enforcement of 4
nonferrous metallic mining exploration, bulk sampling,
prospecting, mining and 5
mine reclamation activities under ch. 293. All moneys received under ch. 293 shall 6
be credited to this appropriation.
70.375 (4) (h) of the statutes is amended to read:
(h) The cost of premiums for bonds required under s. 293.26 (9), 9
293.51, 295.45 (5), or 295.59.
227.42 (4) of the statutes is repealed.
281.35 (5) (e) of the statutes is amended to read:
(e) Right to hearing.
Except as provided in s. 227.42 (4), any Any 13
person who receives notice of a denial or modification requirement under par. (c) is
entitled to a contested case hearing under ch. 227 if the person requests the hearing 2
within 30 days after receiving the notice.
283.84 (3m) of the statutes is amended to read:
A person engaged in mining, as defined in s. 293.01 (9) or 295.41 5
(26), prospecting, as defined in s. 293.01 (18), bulk sampling, as defined in s. 293.01
295.41 (7), or nonmetallic mining, as defined in s. 295.11 (3), may not enter 7
into an agreement under sub. (1).
293.01 (2m) of the statutes is created to read:
“Bulk sampling” means excavating in a potential mining site by 10
removing less than 10,000 tons of material for the purposes of obtaining site-specific 11
data to assess the quality and quantity of the nonferrous metallic mineral deposits 12
and of collecting data from and analyzing the excavated materials in order to prepare 13
the application for a mining permit or for any other approval. Bulk sampling does 14
not constitute prospecting within the meaning of sub. (18).
293.01 (9) of the statutes is amended to read:
“Mining" or “mining operation" means all or part of the process 17
involved in the mining of nonferrous metallic minerals, other than for exploration,
or prospecting, including commercial extraction, agglomeration, 19
beneficiation, construction of roads, removal of overburden and the production of 20
293.01 (18) of the statutes is amended to read:
“Prospecting" means engaging in the examination of an area for the 23
purpose of determining the quality and quantity of nonferrous metallic minerals, 24
other than for exploration or bulk sampling
but including the obtaining of a 25
nonferrous metallic mineral sample, by such physical means as excavating,
trenching, construction of shafts, ramps and tunnels and other means, other than for 2
exploration or bulk sampling
, which the department, by rule, identifies, and the 3
production of prospecting refuse and other associated activities. “Prospecting" shall 4
not include such activities when the activities are, by themselves, intended for and 5
capable of commercial exploitation of the underlying nonferrous ore body. However, 6
the fact that prospecting activities and construction may have use ultimately in 7
mining, if approved, shall not mean that prospecting activities and construction 8
constitute mining within the meaning of sub. (9), provided such activities and 9
construction are reasonably related to prospecting requirements.
293.13 (2) (b) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) (intro.) Minimum standards for exploration, bulk sampling, 12
and mining shall include the following:
293.13 (2) (b) 4. of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) 4. Adequate diversion and drainage of water from the 15
exploration, bulk sampling,
or mining site.
293.13 (2) (b) 7. of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) 7. Removal and stockpiling, or other measures to protect topsoils 18
prior to exploration, bulk sampling,
prospecting, or mining.
293.13 (2) (c) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(c) (intro.) Minimum standards for reclamation of exploration and
sites, where appropriate, and for prospecting and mining sites shall 22
conform to s. 293.01 (23) and include provision for the following:
293.13 (2) (c) 7. of the statutes is amended to read:
(c) 7. Revegetation to stabilize disturbed soils and prevent air and 25
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, 2
293.15 (7m) of the statutes is created to read:
Issue approvals necessary for bulk sampling.
293.15 (8) of the statutes is amended to read:
Promulgate rules regulating the production, storage and disposal 7
of radioactive waste from exploration, bulk sampling,
or mining after 8
seeking comments from the department of health services. At a minimum, rules 9
promulgated under this subsection shall achieve the margin of safety provided in 10
applicable federal statutes and regulations. If the department promulgates rules 11
under this subsection, the department shall investigate the need for standards more 12
restrictive than the applicable federal statutes and regulations.
293.26 of the statutes is created to read:
14293.26 Bulk sampling plan.
A person who intends to engage in bulk 15
sampling may file a bulk sampling plan with the department. The collection of data 16
under a bulk sampling plan may include sampling and analysis related to 17
geophysical, geochemical, groundwater, and surface water conditions, as well as any 18
other data or studies necessary to prepare an application for a mining permit, 19
including the mining plan, reclamation plan, mining waste site feasibility study and 20
plan of operation, or any other approval required for the proposed mining.
A person shall include all of the following in a bulk sampling plan:
(a) A description and map of the bulk sampling site, including the number of 23
acres in the site, the number of acres of land that will be disturbed, if any, associated 24
with each bulk sampling location, and the locations and types of sampling or studies 25
to be conducted at each bulk sampling location.
(b) A description of the methods to be used for the bulk sampling.
(c) A site-specific plan for controlling surface erosion that conforms to 3
requirements under ss. 281.33 (3) and 283.33 and that identifies how impacts to 4
plant and wildlife habitats will be avoided or minimized to the extent practicable.
(d) A revegetation plan for each area where bulk sampling will be performed 6
that describes how adverse impacts to the environment will be avoided or minimized 7
to the extent practicable and how the site will be revegetated and stabilized and that 8
identifies how adverse impacts to plant and wildlife habitats will be avoided or 9
minimized to the extent practicable.
(e) The estimated time for completing the bulk sampling and revegetation of 11
the bulk sampling locations.
(f) A description of any known adverse environmental impacts that are likely 13
to be caused by the bulk sampling and how those impacts will be avoided or 14
minimized to the extent practicable.
(g) A description of any adverse effects, as defined in s. 44.31 (1), that the bulk 16
sampling might have on any historic property, as defined in s. 44.31 (3), that is a 17
listed property, as defined in s. 44.31 (4), that is on the Wisconsin inventory of historic 18
places, as defined in s. 44.31 (12), or that is on the list of locally designated historic 19
places under s. 44.45; or any scenic or recreational areas; and plans to avoid or 20
minimize those adverse effects to the extent practicable.
The department shall protect as confidential any information, other than 22
effluent data, contained in a bulk sampling plan and in any application for an 23
approval that is required before the bulk sampling may be implemented, upon a 24
showing that the information is entitled to protection as a trade secret, as defined in 25
s. 134.90 (1) (c), and any information relating to the location, quality, or quantity of
a nonferrous metallic mineral deposit, to production or sales figures, or to processes 2
or production unique to the applicant or that would tend to adversely affect the 3
competitive position of the applicant if made public.
Within 14 days of receipt of a bulk sampling plan, the department shall 5
identify for the applicant, in writing, all approvals that are required before the bulk 6
sampling may be implemented, any waivers, exemptions, or exceptions to those 7
approvals that are potentially available, and any information that the department 8
needs to issue the approvals or to issue a decision on any waiver, exemption, or 9
exception. If no approvals are required, the department shall notify the applicant 10
that no approvals are required and that the applicant may proceed with the bulk 11
If a storm water discharge permit under s. 283.33 (1) (a) or a water quality 13
certification under rules promulgated under subch. II of ch. 281 to implement 33
(a) is required before bulk sampling may be implemented, the person filing 15
the bulk sampling plan may apply for and be issued the permit or certification.
The department shall act on any required construction site erosion control 17
and storm water management approval, notwithstanding any authorization by the 18
department of a local program to administer construction site erosion control and 19
storm water management requirements.
An applicant shall submit all of the following at the same time:
(a) Applications for individual approvals identified under sub. (4).
(b) Applications for coverage under general permits or registration permits 23
identified under sub. (4).
(c) Applications for waivers, exemptions, or exceptions identified under sub. 25
(d) A bond, as provided in sub. (9).
(a) Notwithstanding any provision in ch. 23, 29, 30, 31, 169, 281, 283, 285, 3
289, or 291 or in a rule promulgated under those chapters that is applicable to an 4
approval identified under sub. (4), the application for any approval, for a waiver, 5
exemption, or exception to an approval, or for a determination that the proposed bulk 6
sampling activity is below the threshold that requires an approval, is considered to 7
be complete on the 30th day after the department receives the application, unless, 8
before that day, the department provides the applicant with written notification that 9
the application is not complete, stating the reason for the determination and 10
describing the specific information necessary to make the application complete.
(b) If the department provides a notice under par. (a), the applicant shall 12
supplement the application by providing the specified information. The application 13
is complete when the applicant provides the information.
(c) If the department determines that the issuance of an approval is contingent 15
upon the issuance of a permit under s. 29.604 (6m), and if the application for the 16
permit under s. 29.604 (6m) is filed with the approval application, the department 17
may not determine that the approval application is incomplete on the basis that the 18
department has not yet issued the permit under s. 29.604 (6m).
(a) A person who intends to engage in bulk sampling shall submit with the 20
bulk sampling plan a bond in the amount of $5,000 that is conditioned on faithful 21
performance of the requirements of this section, that is issued by a surety company 22
licensed to do business in this state, and that provides that the bond may not be 23
canceled by the surety, except after not less than 90 days' notice to the department 24
in writing by registered or certified mail.
(b) If the surety for a bond submitted under par. (a) issues a cancellation notice, 2
the person who filed the bulk sampling plan shall deliver a replacement bond at least 3
30 days before the expiration of the 90-day notice period. If the person fails to submit 4
a replacement bond, the person may not engage in bulk sampling until the person 5
submits a replacement bond.
(c) If the license of the surety company for a bond submitted under par. (a) is 7
revoked or suspended, the person who filed the bulk sampling plan, within 30 days 8
after receiving written notice from the department, shall deliver a replacement bond. 9
If the person fails to submit a replacement bond, the person may not engage in bulk 10
sampling until the person submits a replacement bond.
(d) The department may require that the amount of the bond submitted under 12
this subsection be increased at any time, if the department determines that it is 13
unlikely that the bond would be adequate to fund the cost to this state of completing 14
the revegetation plan.