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Environmental Health Division
Explorers and Exploratory Borings
Mineral exploration borings
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regulates the construction and sealing of exploratory borings done to explore or prospect for minerals or petroleum under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 103I and Minnesota Rules, chapter 4727.
The rule regulates the following:
- Licensing of explorers.
- Certification of responsible individuals.
- Registration of drilling machines and hoists.
- Notification, construction and use of exploratory borings.
- Sealing (temporary and permanent) of exploratory borings.
Construction of exploratory borings in Minnesota has been regulated by MDH since 1980. Minnesota Rules, chapter 4727, was last revised August 25, 2003. This rule does not regulate the construction, repair, or sealing wells and other borings, which are regulated under Minnesota Rules, chapter 4725.
An exploratory boring is drilling done to prospect or explore for oil, natural gas, apatite, diamonds, graphite, gemstones, kaolin clay, and metallic minerals, both ferrous and nonferrous. It does not include borings done to explore or prospect for aggregate, peat, or dimension stone.
Licensing, certification, and registration of explorers and equipment
Company License Application
An explorer's license is issued by MDH and is required to construct, repair, or seal exploratory borings. Explorer's license require annual renewal and expire on December 31 of each year. The explorer's license shall include the name of the responsible individual who will supervise or oversee the location, construction, and sealing of exploratory borings on behalf of the explorer.
Certification of Responsible Individual
The construction, maintenance, and sealing of exploratory borings must be supervised by a certified responsible individual. In order to be certified as a responsible individual an applicant must (1) take and pass a written exam, (2) be licensed by the state of Minnesota as a professional engineer or geologist, or (3) be certified by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Having one of these accreditations enables an applicant to bypass the written exam.
Drilling Machines and Hoists Registration
A drilling machine or hoist may not be used for exploratory boring, or for any drilling activity requiring a license, unless the drilling machine or hoist is registered with MDH.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Registration
Under Minnesota Statutes, section 103I.601, subdivision 3, the explorer must also register with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – Division of Lands and Minerals at least 30 days prior to constructing an exploratory boring. This registration must be renewed annually. The DNR may require a bond, security, or other assurance from the explorer if the DNR has reasonable doubt about the explorer’s financial ability to comply with the requirements of law. Contact DNR – Division of Lands and Minerals for additional information.
Notification of exploratory boring
A written notification to drill an exploratory boring is required at least ten days before an exploratory boring is to be drilled. The notification must be submitted to MDH and DNR. The notification must contain a map showing the location of each proposed boring, the Minnesota Unique Number of each boring, the name and license number of the explorer, the name of the responsible individual, and the name and address of the property owner.
Construction of exploratory boring
An exploratory boring must be constructed according to the provisions in Minnesota Rules, chapter 4727. Requirements include the use of approved casing and drilling fluids, proper disposal of drilling materials, proper backfilling of recirculation pits, and monitoring for radioactivity (where appropriate). During the drilling process and until the boring is permanently sealed, an exploratory boring must be constructed and maintained to prevent the introduction of surface contaminants into the boring or to prevent the passage of water from one aquifer to another and must be covered and protected to prevent vandalism or entry of debris into the boring.
Sealing of exploratory borings
Upon completion of an exploratory boring, the boring must be sealed according to the provisions in Minnesota Rules, chapter 4727. The boring must be permanently sealed using approved grouts and methods or may be sealed temporarily for up to ten years. If the boring is sealed temporarily, it must be covered and have an approved protective casing installed to prevent vandalism and entry of debris or surface water into the boring.
Upon completion and sealing of the boring, an Exploratory Boring Sealing Report must be completed and submitted to MDH within 30 days. All reports remain on file with the MDH.
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