Type of Permits and Approvals
In addition to a metallic mining permit, there are numerous other permits and approvals that are required from the DNR or federal agencies. In general, the following examples of groups of permit applications and reports must be submitted to the WDNR:
- A Mine Permit Application. This is an umbrella permit that regulates the mine and covers construction, operations, closure/reclamation, and long-term care.
- Pollution Control: Air Pollution Control and Wisconsin Pollution Discharge and Elimination System Permit Applications.
- Water and Wetlands: Wetlands, High Capacity Well, and Water Regulatory Permit Applications. These permits regulate construction activities in or near navigable waters.
- Operational Reports: A Feasibility Study and Plan of Operation for Mine Waste Storage Facilities, as well as Preliminary Engineering Report for Waste Water Treatment Facilities.
- Construction and Operational Storm Water Management Permits.
Role of Federal Agencies
There are two broad areas where federal agencies will be involved in the review and permitting process for a new mine in Wisconsin. If the proposed project:
- Is on federal land such as lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service, or involves federal minerals, then the Bureau of Land Management will also be involved in the EIS process; and
- Involves impacts to federally regulated wetlands, then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be involved in the EIS and will also be the lead agency for issuance of the Wetlands Permit.
Under the recent changes to Wisconsin’s mining law, the DNR has been instructed to develop a memorandum of understanding with any participating federal agencies regarding the EIS so that a single EIS is prepared for the project that meets the requirements of both state and federal law. If federal agencies are involved in the EIS process, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will also be involved in reviewing the EIS and determining the adequacy of the draft and Final EIS.
A mining company is financially responsible for all reclamation, monitoring, long-term care, and remediation costs associated with a mine. A new mining project in Wisconsin will be required to ensure that funds will be available to pay for these responsibilities by furnishing financial assurance. These include:
- Reclamation costs throughout the life of the mining operation.
- Long-term care costs for monitoring and maintenance of the waste disposal facility for a period of at least 40 years after completion of mine closure and reclamation.
- Remedial contingency costs.
Financial assurance for reasonably anticipated costs to be incurred during the period between 40 and 250 years after closure of the mine to cover specific foreseeable repairs and maintenance of the waste site caps and water treatment facilities.
Remedial contingency costs. These costs are set by law to be equal to 10% of the required financial assurance for reclamation and long-term care. This financial assurance was added under 2017 Wisconsin Act 134 to cover costs for unforeseen remediation at the mine site.