Minerals and Mining Program - In Situ Leach Mine
To prepare for the possibility of in situ leach mining operations moving into South Dakota, the 2006 Legislature passed Senate Bill 62. This new law authorizes the Board of Minerals and Environment to promulgate rules for the construction, operation, monitoring, and closure of uranium and other in situ leach mines under the South Dakota Mined Land Reclamation Act (SDCL 45-6B). In situ leach mining involves drilling a number of holes and injecting solutions into an ore body to leach the target mineral out of the rock, then collecting the fluid through recovery wells and processing it on the land surface to remove the mineral. In situ leach methods have been used in other states to recover minerals such as uranium, copper, and salt. In response to this legislation, the department prepared a draft set of rules.
On January 18, 2007, the Board of Minerals and Environment held a public hearing to revise ARSD 74:29:01:01 (Definitions) and consider adoption of new chapter 74:29:11, In Situ Leach Mining. The hearing was attended by representatives of the uranium mining industry, environmental organizations, and Native American groups. After considering written and oral comments from the public and the department, the board made changes to the draft and adopted the rules. On April 17, 2007, the Interim Rules Committee adopted the rules after testimony from the public and the department. The rules have been filed with the South Dakota Secretary of State office and are now effective. The board made some revisions to the rules in 2008 that were adopted by the Interim Rules Committee.
On May 15, 2008, the Board of Minerals and Environment adopted revisions to the in situ leach mine rules. The revisions updated the rule that lists other permits and approvals an applicant msut obtain to operate an in situ leach mine. In addition, a new rule requires an operator applying for an in situ leach mien permit obtain an Underground Injection Control Class III Well permit under Chapter 74:55:01 before the Board of Minerals and Environment may issue a mine permit. The rule revisions also inlcude amendments to make the in situ leach mining rules consistent with the 2008 changes to Chapter 74:55:01 (Underground Injection Control- Class III Wells.
In 2011, the South Dakota Legislature tolled (put on hold/suspended) the in situ leach mining rules.
Please click on the links above for a copy of the rules that were adopted by the board and the Interim Rules Committee, the board's statement of reasons for adopting the regulations, a copy of the minutes from the January 18, 2007 hearing, and questions and answers on the regulations.