Minerals, Mining, & Superfund

Who Needs an Exploration Notice of Intent (EXNI)

Exploration Notices of Intent are required for exploration of all minerals such as gold and silver, precious metals, coal, dimension stone, decorative stone, uranium, aggregates, and oil and gas seismic shot-holes.

What Activities are Exempt

An EXNI is not required for activities that cause little or no surface disturbance. Such activities include:
  1. Auger or drill test holes less than 50 feet in depth and less than seven inches in diameter for sand, limestone, gypsum, shale, or iron ore used in the process of making cement;
  2. Airborne surveys and photographs;
  3. Non-explosive seismic energy sources (vibroseis);
  4. Augered bentonite or augered construction aggregate test holes or less than 50 feet in depth when accomplished in conformance with SDCL 45-6C-28 and SDCL 45-6C-32;
  5. Use of instruments or devices which are hand carried or otherwise transported over the surface to make magnetic, radioactive, or other measurements;
  6. Boundary or claim surveying;
  7. Location work;
  8. Annual assessment work to maintain the validity of a mining claim; and
  9. Any other work causing no greater land disturbance than is caused by ordinary lawful use of the land by persons not exploring for minerals.
Even though these activities are exempt from EXNI requirements, an operator must comply with U.S. Forest Service and BLM requirements for exploration operations conducted on federal lands.

What is the Application Process for an EXNI

  1. Submit a completed exploration notice of intent application and reclamation plan;
  2. Submit a completed certification of applicant form;
  3. Submit a topographic map showing the proposed exploration area;
  4. Submit a $250 application fee;
  5. Submit written consultation with the surface owner on reclamation preferences for the exploration area; and
  6. Submit a reclamation bond in an amount to be determined by the department. An operator can submit a $100,000 statewide surety to cover all exploration operations.
It usually takes from one to two months for the department to issue a restriction letter for an exploration project. If the project is on U.S. Forest Service or BLM land, the approval process can take longer since approval from these agencies is required before a restriction letter can be issued.

Reclamation Bonding Requirements

The department sets the level of bonding for each EXNI to cover the costs of plugging all proposed test holes and reclamation of affected public and private land. In lieu of filing a reclamation bond for each EXNI, the operator may post a $100,000 statewide surety to cover all exploration operations. The reclamation bond must be posted with the department before it will issue the restriction letter.

Annual Report Requirements

For each EXNI, an operator must submit an annual report of activities conducted under it to the department by January 1 of each year. Every November, the department mails an annual report form for each permit to operators for completion. Operators holding more than one EXNI may submit one annual report form describing activities conducted under all of them. The completed annual report forms include the following information:
  1. The total number of drill holes, trenches, bulk sampling sites or shot holes allowed under the EXNI;
  2. The total number of drill holes, trenches, bulk sampling sites or shot holes completed during the previous year under the EXNI;
  3. The total amount of surface disturbance created as the result of conducting exploration activities under the EXNI;
  4. The total number of drill or shot holes plugged and reclaimed during the previous year, including the method used to plug each hole;
  5. The total amount of surface disturbance reclaimed during the previous year;
  6. The total amount of surface disturbance remaining to be reclaimed;
  7. The total number of drill or shot holes remaining to be plugged and reclaimed;
  8. A description of the coming year's activities to be conducted under the EXNI; and
  9. A map of sufficient detail that clearly shows the information required in the annual report.

What Laws and Rules Govern Exploration Activities

Exploration for all minerals excluding uranium
The South Dakota Mineral Exploration Act (SDCL 45-6C) and the South Dakota Plugging Standards (ARSD 74:11:08)

Exploration for uranium
The South Dakota Uranium Exploration Act (SDCL 45-6D) and the South Dakota Plugging Standards (ARSD 74:11:08)

EXNI Application and Other Forms

To download EXNI application and other forms, please go to the DANR Applications & Forms web page. If you cannot download the forms, please contact Eric Holm and the forms will be mailed to you.

Permits Required for Exploration Operations in Addition to an EXNI

To learn more about permits that may be required for exploration operations in addition to an exploration notice of intent, please go to the one stop permitting page.