Prospecting Permitting

Notice of Intent (NOI)

Notice of Intent applies to a prospecting operation that is for the purpose of gathering environmental data to establish the conditions of an area before beginning propsecting drilling operations, strip or underground mining, or to determine the location, quality, or quantity of a natural mineral deposit that does not significantly disturb the natural land surface. A person who conducts a prospecting operation must file with the department a notice of intent to prospect. The notice must address ARM 17.24.1018 in its entirety.

Statute: Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act; 82-4-226 MCA
Rules: ARM 17.24.1018

Regulated Activities

A person interested in prospecting for coal or uranium must obtain a prospecting permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if the land is not already included in a current mine operating permit and if the prospecting is conducted for the purpose of determining the location, quantity and quality of a mineral deposit. A reclamation plan and bond must be submitted. The permit is valid for one year and must be renewed.

A prospecting permit is not required for surface disturbances to determine the quantity of overburden in an area, or for gathering environmental data prior to strip or underground coal mining and reclamation operations, providing the area to be disturbed is not one designated as unsuitable for coal mining (see "4. Criteria" on the following page). 

Statute: Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act; 82-4-226 MCA
Rules: ARM 17.24.1001-1018


Application Requirements

The application for a prospecting permit must be made in writing, notarized and submitted to the DEQ in duplicate on forms furnished by DEQ. A detailed prospecting map and a prospecting reclamation plan must accompany the application. A description of the proposed method of prospecting and type of equipment to be used must be included. Prior to obtaining a prospecting permit, the applicant must file a reclamation bond with the DEQ in an amount determined by the DEQ, based upon the estimated cost to the DEQ of required reclamation and restoration work.  Bond may be no less than $200.00/acre and the total bond may not be less than $10,000.00.

At least 120 days but not more than 150 days prior to the permit's anniversary date, the operator must submit an application for a permit renewal stating the number of holes permitted and drilled, listing surface disturbances and supplying an updated map.

Statute: Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act; 82-4-226 MCA
Rules: ARM 17.24.1001, 1003, 1016, 1102


Permit Denial

The permit for prospecting for coal and uranium may be denied for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to: adverse reclamation possibilities; exceptional topographic, cultural resource or scientific characteristics; biological productivity or ecological fragility; historic or geologic importance; or threat of a public hazard.

Statute: Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act; 82-4-227 and 228 MCA
Rule: ARM 17.24.1131-1148