Hard Rock Mining Bureau

The Hard Rock Mining Bureau has separate programs for hard rock exploration and hard rock mining. Hard rock exploration requires a license to perform drilling and trenching and other activities to determine if an economical mineral resource is present. Hard rock mining can occur under a Small Miner Exclusion Statement (SMES) or under an Operating Permit.  Small Miner Exclusion mining has the limitation of not more than five acres of disturbance at any one time. Mining that cannot be limited to five acres of disturbance (SMES), can only be done under an Operating Permit.  In some circumstances, multiple sites may be permitted under a single operating permit. 

Operating Permit

Operating permits are required for hard rock mines that will disturb more than five acres at any one time. The Operating Permit Section of the Hard Rock Mining Bureau is responsible for the review of permit applications for operating permits and for the corresponding inspections of those mines. The Operating Permit Section is also responsible for implementing other portions of the program, such as the review/development of environmental reviews, the review of annual reports, the review of permit revision requests, and the review of amendment applications.

Please be advised that these documents and notices are being posted to the website as a courtesy. The format or content of documents and notices posted may be modified as necessary for website software requirements and protocols. Reliance should not be placed on courtesy notifications in lieu of the statutory notification requirements set forth in the Montana Metal Mine Reclamation Act. Please note that the pending amendments and pending operating permit applications listed below are those that are currently under review by the Hard Rock Mining Bureau.

For detailed information on any of the amendments or applications under review by the Hard Rock Mining Bureau, please click here for the DEQ Records Request Page.



PENDING AMENDMENTS

Amendment 017
On March 30, 2020 Golden Sunlight Mine, Inc. (GSM) submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) an application to amend Operating Permit No. 00065. The amendment would allow GSM to reprocess tailings recovered from Tailings Storage Facility 1 (TSF-1) over a period of approximately 12 years using conventional excavation, loading, and conveyance equipment. The 26.2 million tons of tailings at TSF-1 cover an area of approximately 190 acres. Tailings would be recovered from TSF-1, then mixed with water to produce a slurry that would be pumped to the Flotation Plant in the existing Mill Building. The Flotation Plant would process approximately 6,400 tons per day of tailings. The Flotation Plant will allow recovery of residual gold values, reduce reactivity of the reprocessed tailings, and produce a sulfidic concentrate for market at a rate of approximately 455 tons per day. GSM would use the Mineral Hill Pit as a repository for disposal of reprocessed tailings. For final reclamation, a growth media cover will be placed on the tailings surface and seeded to control dust and minimize infiltration of precipitation. Flotation tailings fill material in the Mineral Hill Pit will have a surface area of approximately 35 acres. Implementation will not require a change in the approved water management system for the Mineral Hill Pit. Flotation tailings process solution combined with existing Mineral Hill Pit seepage and the bedrock aquifer will continue to be managed in accordance with the current approved system. GSM would continue to maintain the cone-of-depression in the groundwater table surrounding the Mineral Hill Pit through use of the underground sump. The existing dewatering system will effectively control seepage water from the tailings, ultimately pumping the sump water to TSF-2.

Amendment 002
On February 27, 2020, GCC Three Forks, LLC, Geyser Site, filed an application with the Department of Environmental Quality for an amendment to Operating Permit No. 00184. The site is approximately 6.5 miles southeast of Geyser, MT near Highway 87. The amendment would authorize the quarrying of gypsum on Department of Natural Resource and Conservation (DNRC) land in Sections 2, 3, 10 and 11, Township 16 North, Range 10 East. The proposed amendment area would cover a total of 377 acres. About 45 acres would be disturbed, in addition to the 37 acres already permitted for disturbance over the life of mine. The mining allowed under the amendment is estimated to add about three years to the life of mine

Amendment 001
On February 27, 2020, Venture Stone, LLC (Venture Stone) filed an application for Amendment (001) with the Department of Environmental Quality to add five new rock collecting sites to the operating permit which currently has five rock collecting sites and one processing site. Venture Stone is a decorative rock picking operation which collects surface minerals from slopes and hillsides throughout Cascade County, Montana, generally 13 miles south and west of Great Falls.

Amendment 006
On March 29, 2018, Barretts Minerals, Inc. - Regal Mine (Regal) submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) an application to amend Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit No. 00013.  The Regal Mine is located in Madison and Beaverhead Counties, approximately 11 miles east of Dillon, MT in Sections 20, 34, and 35, Township 7 South, Range 7 West and Sections 2 and 3, Township 8 South, Range 7 West.
If approved, the amendment   would allow the Regal Mine to expand the existing open pit talc mine.  The permit boundary would increase from 243 to 380 acres.  The expansion would include, in part, a pit expansion of 45 acres and a waste rock dump expansion of 172 acres, some of which are already within the permit boundary.
The expansion would extend the mine life by approximately six years.  Eight million cubic yards of waste rock and one-half million cubic yards of talc ore would be produced.

Amendment 003
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) received an amendment application from Sibanye Stillwater Mining Company on December 4, 2017, proposing to expand the impoundment at the East Boulder mine. The Sibanye Stillwater Mining Company operates this mine under Operating Permit No. 00149. The mine is located in portions of Sections 11, 19, 20, 20, 26-29, and 33-35 in Township 4 South, Range 13 East and Sections 9, 10, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 21 in Township 3 South, Range 13 East in Sweet Grass County. 

If approved, the proposed amendment would allow a “raise” of the currently permitted tailings impoundment.  The proposed amendment would raise the currently approved Stage 5 lift an additional fourteen feet in elevation and add 1.8 million cubic yards of tailings capacity. The amendment would add approximately 6.4 acres to the currently permitted disturbance area for a total of about 335 acres of disturbance.
 

PENDING OPERATING PERMIT APPLICATIONS

On February 28, 2020, an application for a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit was submitted by Potentate Mining, LLC (Potentate) for a site located in Granite County. Potentate filed the application with the Department of Environmental Quality for an operating permit under the Metal Mine Reclamation Act. If approved, the operating permit would authorize a placer mine operation for the purpose of recovering sapphires and a minor amount of placer gold. The proposed site is located about 22 miles southwest of Philipsburg, MT in Section 15, and parts of Sections 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22, Township 6 North, Range 16 West, in Granite County for a total permit area of about 2,800 acres. Potentate currently operates in these locations under an Exploration License and Small Mine Exclusion Statement and needs an operating permit due to proposed expansion of the site. Potentate proposes to disturb approximately 2,321 acres over a life of mine of about 30 to 40 years. The site is on private land and would employ up to 24 full and part time employees.

Montana Frontier Sandstone, LLC (MFS) filed an application with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit. The operations would be located in Golden Valley County. MFS filed the application with DEQ for an operating permit under the Metal Mine Reclamation Act. The operating permit would authorize the quarrying of sandstone. The proposed quarry site is located about seven miles south of Ryegate, MT in Sections 22 and 23, Township 6 North, Range 20 East. MFS currently quarries rock at the site under Small Miner Exclusion Statement #53-016, but needs an operating permit to continue operations due to proposed expansion of the site. MFS proposes to disturb approximately 15 acres. The site is located on private land.

Access to the proposed mine site would be by way of public roads and highways. The mine life is projected to be nineteen years.

Click here to go to Montana Limestone Resources main page
 

Montana Limestone Resources, LLC (MLR) filed an application with the Department of Environmental Quality for a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit. If approved, the operating permit would authorize the quarrying of limestone in portions of Sections 26, 27, 34 and 35 in Township 11 North, Range 13 West. The proposed quarry would be located on private land with a portion of the proposed access road on State land. The site is located approximately 2.5 miles west of Drummond, MT near highway Interstate 90. The operating permit would cover a total of 546 acres. About 97 acres would be disturbed over the next five years, with about 174 acres to be disturbed over the life of mine, which is estimated to be about 50 years. The quarry would be mined sequentially, with waste rock placed in the pit after the initial pit is opened, leaving only the final pit without backfill. MLR would use trucks and heavy equipment to remove the limestone.

Click here to go to Black Butte Copper Project's main page

On December 15, 2015, Tintina Montana Inc (Tintina) submitted a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit Application to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a proposed underground copper mine. The proposed mine would be located on private land approximately 15 miles north of White Sulphur Springs, MT, in Meagher County (in portions of the SE ¼ of Section 24, the NE ¼, SE ¼ and SW ¼ of Section 25, Section 36, Township 12N, Range 6E and portions of the SW ¼ of Section 29, the NW 1/4, and the S ½ of Section 30, Section 31, and the NW ¼ of Section 32, Township 12N, Range 7E). If approved, ore obtained from underground would be milled on site using a grinding/flotation process and producing approximately 440 tons of concentrate per day. Approximately 45% of the produced tailings would be mixed with cement and binder agents, creating a paste, and used as backfill in the underground mine. The remaining 55% of tailings would be mixed with cement and binders and stored in a lined impoundment. Approximately 285 acres would be disturbed at the site. Access to the proposed mine site would be by way of public roads and highways. The mine life is projected to be nineteen years.

On February 1, 2019, an application for a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit for Huppert Brothers Construction, Inc, (Huppert) in Yellowstone County was submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Huppert filed the application with DEQ for an operating permit under the Metal Mine Reclamation Act. If approved, the operating permit would authorize the quarrying of decorative landscape and sandstone rock. The proposed quarry sites are located about eight miles southeast of Laurel, MT in Section 24, Township 3 South, Range 24 East, and Section 30, Township 3 South, Range 24 East in Yellowstone County. Huppert currently quarries rock in these locations, but needs an operating permit to continue operations due to the proposed expansion of the site. Huppert proposes to disturb approximately 87 total acres. The site is located on private land.

On October 9, 2019, an application for a Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit was submitted by Bullock Contracting LLC (Bullock) for a site located in Lewis and Clark County. Bullock filed the application with the Department of Environmental Quality for an operating permit under the Metal Mine Reclamation Act. If approved, the operating permit would authorize the quarrying of crushed rock. The proposed quarry site is located about 13 miles northeast of Helena, MT in Section 23, Township 11 North, Range 2 West, in Lewis and Clark County near Devil’s Elbow Recreation Area. Bullock currently quarries rock at this location, but needs an operating permit to continue operations due to the proposed expansion of the site. Bullock proposes to disturb approximately 21 total acres. The site is on private land.

Exploration License

An Exploration License is required for all mineral exploration activities that may involve surface or subsurface disturbance. The Exploration License is not a mining permit, and cannot be used for mining. Likewise, the Operating Permit (OP) and Small Miner Exclusion Statement (SMES) are intended for “mining” and cannot be used for “exploration.”

Small Miner Exclusions

Small Miner Exclusion Statements are an exclusion from the requirements of an Operating Permit and are generally applicable to operations that disturb less than five acres of land. Bonding and site reclamation is not required, except for placer mining operations. An environmental review of potential impacts is also not required.

Public Notices

Barretts Minerals - Legal Notice
Golden Sunlight Mine - Legal Notice
Black Diamond - Legal Notice
GCC Three Forks, LLC - Legal Notice
Venture Stone - Legal Notice
Potentate Mining LLC - Legal Notice

Environmental Reviews

Click here to view Environmental Reviews.

Forms

A - Operating Permit
  1. New Application: Single/Multiple Quarry Mine Site Permit - PDF
  2. Annual Renewal Form - PDF
B - Exploration Licenses
  1. New Application or Amendment to License Packet - PDF
  2. Annual Renewal Form - PDF
C - Small Miner Exlusion Statement
  1. New Small Miner Exclusion Statement (SMES) Packet - PDF
  2. Annual Renewal Form - PDF
D - Bond Forms

Please contact the Permit License Technician at 444-4953 for the bond instrument forms.

  1.  Reclamation Bond Requirements - PDF
E - Other Government Requirements/Guidelines

Addtitional guidelines or permit requirements associated with hard rock mining from other goverment entities

  1. Sage Grouse Advisory
  2. Exploration and Mining on State Lands/School Trust - Department of Natural Resources Trust Lands Management
  3. Mining Claims on Federal Land - Bureau of Land Management Montana/Dakotas
  4. DEQ Water Protection Bureau - MPDES/Storm Water Permits
  5. USDA Forest Service
  6. US Army Corps of Engineers

Law/Rules

Montana Code Annotated

Metal Mine Reclamation Act, Title 82, Chapter 4 Reclamation, Part 3

Administrative Rules of Montana

ARM Title 17, Chapter 24, Reclamation, Subchapter 1

Contacts

Contact Information
Physical Address: 1520 E 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Mailing Address: DEQ Hard Rock Mining Bureau, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901
Phone: (406) 444-4953
Fax: (406) 444-1488