Know Your Business Part 8: Permits Required to Mine Uranium via ISR

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

This is re-posted from

Know Your Business Part 7: Agreement States vs. Non Agreement States

When permitting for an ISR uranium mine, ‘Agreement States’ have been given the authority to issue permits on behalf of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  A state can be an Agreement State with one or both of the above Federal Agencies.

An NRC Agreement State has the authority to issue the Radioactive Materials License normally issued by the NRC.

From the NRC:

Agreement States, have entered into agreements with NRC that give them the authority to license and inspect byproduct, source, or special nuclear materials used or possessed within their borders. Any applicant, other than a Federal agency or Federally recognized Indian tribe, who wishes to possess or use licensed material in one of these Agreement States should contact the responsible officials in that State for guidance on preparing an application. These applications should be filed with State officials, not with NRC.

An EPA Agreement State can issue the Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit normally issued by the EPA.

From the EPA:

In a cooperative effort between EPA, state and tribal governments, the UIC Program works toward protecting underground sources of drinking water (USDW) from contamination by regulating the construction and operation of injection wells. Underground injection wells are primarily used to dispose of wastes into the subsurface and have the potential to adversely affect USDWs. Five classes of wells are defined according to the type of waste that is disposed and where the waste is injected. 

Wyoming is not an NRC Agreement State but is an EPA UIC Agreement State while Texas and New Mexico are Agreement States for both.

References for this post:

Dundee Capital Markets – In Situ Recovery – Uranium in the United States
NRC – Directory of Agreement State and Non-Agreement State Directors and State Liaison Officers
EPA – Region 8 Underground Injection Control