Minerals & Mining

Who Needs a Uranium Exploration Permit

Uranium exploration permits are required for the exploration of uranium. Activities covered under the permit include sinking shafts, tunneling, drilling test holes, or cuts or other works for the purposes of extracting samples (including bulk samples) to prove the commercial grade of a uranium deposit before commencement of mining operations or development of test facilities. Uranium mining, including in situ leach mining, requires a state mine permit issued under SDCL 45-6B and ARSD 74:29.

What Activities are Exempt

A permit is not required for activities that cause little or no surface disturbance. Such activities include:
  1. Airborne surveys and photographs;
  2. Use of instruments or devices which are hand carried or otherwise transported over the surface to make magnetic, radioactive, or other measurements;
  3. Boundary or claim surveying;
  4. Location work;
  5. Annual assessment work to maintain the validity of a mining claim; and
  6. 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 state uranium exploration permitting requirements, an operator must comply with U.S. Forest Service and BLM requirements for operations conducted on federal lands.

What is the Application Process for a Uranium Exploration Permit

  1. Submit a completed uranium exploration permit application and uranium exploration reclamation plan;
  2. Submit a completed certification of applicant form;
  3. Submit a topographic map showing the proposed exploration area;
  4. Submit a $500 application fee;
  5. Submit written consultation with the surface owner on reclamation preferences for the exploration area;
  6. File a copy of the application with the register of deeds office in the county in which the exploration will be conducted; and
  7. Submit a reclamation bond in an amount to be determined by the department.
After a complete application is submitted to the department, a hearing on the application is required before the Board of Minerals and Environment. It can take at least four months to obtain a uranium exploration permit.

Reclamation Bonding Requirements

The Board of Minerals and Environment sets the level of bonding for each uranium exploration permit to cover the costs of plugging all proposed test holes and reclamation of affected public and private land. The reclamation bond must be deposited with the department before the operator begins exploration activities.

Renewal of Uranium Exploration Permits

A uranium exploration permit is issued for a period of three years and may be renewed triennially. Thirty days prior to the renewal date, the operator is required to submit an application to renew the permit. The application is required to include:
  1. A uranium exploration permit application with current information;
  2. Any modifications to the reclamation plan;
  3. A revised map; and
  4. A $200 renewal fee.
The operator is also required to submit a clear and complete report containing the following information:
  1. All test holes which have penetrated an aquifer;
  2. The depth of the aquifer;
  3. The method used to plug such test holes; and
  4. The location of all test holes with sufficient information to allow the department to locate the test holes.
A hearing on the renewal application is held before the Board of Minerals and Environment.

What Laws and Rules Govern Uranium Exploration Activities

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

Uranium Exploration Permit Application and Other Forms

To download a uranium exploration permit application and other forms, 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.

Other Permits Required for Uranium Exploration Operations

To learn more about other permits that may be required for uranium exploration operations, please go to the one stop permitting page.