There are six permits – as well as several state and local permits – required to mine uranium via the ISR method.
1. Radioactive Materials License – Granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in Non-Agreement States and through the state in Agreement States. The NRC considers the ISR process underground milling – not mining – therefore, requiring this license. It is the most difficult license to acquire since it is the only permit that deals with uranium and radioactivity. It requires baseline studies, mine design plans, pump tests, Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), and waste disposal plans.
2. Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit – Usually granted by a state agency and allows the recovery of uranium using Class III injection wells. Class III injection wells are used to inject fluids to dissolve uranium and is key to ISR uranium mining.
3. Mining Permit – Usually granted by a state agency and is the general permit allowing mining operations. Provides baseline water quality, pump test data, and focuses on the mine’s use of the subterranean water.
4. Deep Disposal Well – Granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Non-Agreement states or through the Radioactive Materials License in EPA Agreement States. Its a Class I well used for disposing non-hazardous waste water. These wells provide a safe way of removing wastes from the surface by isolating them deep below safe drinking water resources.
5. Well Field Permit – Granted by a state agency. Each well field is required to be permitted and usually needs two to four quarters of well data before they cam come online.
6. Aquifer Exemption – Granted by the EPA in Non-Agreement states or through the Radioactive Materials License in EPA Agreement States. Required if the aquifer is drinking water quality.
7. State and Local – State permits can include air quality and surface and groundwater discharge permits. Local permits can include land use and noise pollution permits.
References for this post:
NRC – Source Material
EPA – Industrial & Municipal Waste Disposal Wells (Class I)
EPA – Mining Wells (Class III)
Dundee Capital Markets – In Situ Recovery – Uranium in the United States