DNR Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Rules Updates

Latest News: 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Board approved a draft scope statement on Feb. 27. DNR will now send the approved scope statement to the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) to publish in the register, beginning the rulemaking process. Former Gov. Scott Walker approved the draft scope statement in August 2018.

Next Step:

LRB will publish the scope statement, and DNR will prepare an economic impact analysis. DNR plans to hold three public hearings on the scope statement in mid-2019.


This proposed rule would implement Act 134 (the repeal of the nonferrous mining moratorium) and update related mining provisions in DNR Chapters 130, 131, 132, and 182. Rule changes from Act 134 that DNR is required to implement in rulemaking include:

  • A requirement that mining permit applicants must demonstrate the mining project will comply with groundwater quality standards for 250 years following the closure of the mining facility.
  • The addition of two new forms of financial assurance. The proposed rules would provide a framework for determining the amount of financial assurance necessary for upkeep of pollution control elements.
  • New permit requirements for technology that will ensure compliance with environmental protection statutes and rules.
  • Changes to the permitting process.
  • New rules related to bulk sampling, which are not currently in DNR code.
  • Changes to rules related to mining near wetlands and the irrevocable trust fund.
  • The removal of the requirement that mining waste facilities pay waste facility license fees.

The proposed rules will also update DNR rules to make them consistent with other statutory changes since 1982, including:

  • Updating language related to application fees and requirements.
  • Requiring DNR, as a condition of issuing a mining permit, to find that the project would “result in a net positive economic impact,” as required by statute. Currently, DNR rules state that the department should deny a mining permit if the project will result in a “net substantial adverse economic impact.”
  • A new process for permit modification that distinguishes between substantial and inconsequential changes.
  • Updating financial assurance requirements, including the allowable methods and length of time a permit holder must keep financial assurance.
  • Updating the State Natural Areas that are unsuitable for mining.
  • Establishing minimum qualifications for mining permits.

In addition to updating the rules for consistency with the statutes, the DNR scope statement proposes to further clarify several other provisions in the rules, including:

  • The process for assessing completion of reclamation.
  • Criteria for issuing a certificate of completion.
  • Minimum baseline monitoring requirements.
  • Minimum requirements for groundwater modeling assessments.
  • The scope and applicability of Contingency Plans and Risk Assessments.
  • Exploration licensing requirements; specifically, whether DNR should require additional information to ensure conformance with minimum standards.



December 12, 2017 Act 134 signed into law.
August 22, 2018 Gov. Walker approved scope statement.
February 27, 2019 Natural Resources Board approved draft scope statement.


Administration Documents

Draft scope statement