Dissolved Mineral Resource Exploration (DMRE) Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Why are these regulations necessary; DMRE is covered under DWR regulations.

The regulations are necessary as the Legislature passed AB 52 during the 2017 session and mandated that regulations be developed. The need for this legislation stemmed from the need to create a system by which mineral claim holders without a water right could explore for locatable minerals that may exist on their claims.

2. Dual permitting scenarios are still unclear, are there cases where one would be required to permit in both DWR and NDOM? Example: If the intent is to drill a borehole that may be completed as a well with water rights, should it be permitted as a well through DWR or as DMRE borehole?

There may be instances where permitting is required from both NDOM and NDWR. For example the new statute allows for up to 5 acre-feet of pumping for sampling and testing per project, above which a water right from the NDWR is required before exceeding the 5 acre-feet limit.  In order to convert a DMRE borehole to a well it must first be permitted as a DMRE well under NDOM.  Existing wells authorized to operate by mining, milling or other waivers, or production wells for which water rights have been established by NDWR prior to January 1, 2018, are exempt from the regulations in this chapter.  Clarifying language was added in Section 20 to address these concerns. The regulations follow the statute, and therefore require that all DMRE boreholes and wells fall under these regulations after January 1, 2018.

3. Can you convert a borehole to an instrumentation borehole upon plugging in NAC 534.144?

No. As per regulations, boreholes are not allowed to remain open after 60 days of drilling, unless they are permitted as DMRE wells. If an entity wants to install instrumentation for continuous monitoring in an open hole, the borehole should be permitted and completed as a DMRE well. The regulations do not preclude plugging an instrumented borehole.

4. Can funds for a permit application be transferred electronically?

No. The Division does not currently have the ability to accept electronic transfers without individual transaction approval through the State Treasurers office. The Division can only accept checks in person or through the mail at this time.

5. How will NDOM determine the amount of the bond on private land?

NDOM will calculate bonding for wells permitted on private land by using the Nevada Standardized Reclamation Cost Estimator (SRCE) as a reference tool in determining the proper amount necessary to properly plug the proposed well.

6. These regulations represent a change in ongoing and new operations, especially when you have a water right. Will all boreholes eventually be regulated following the introduction of these regulations?

The plugging of exploration boreholes has been regulated under the regulations for Water Well and Related Drilling (NAC 534) of the Division of Water Resources.  The borehole definition in Chapter 534 of the NAC is intended for sampling of solids and specifically prohibits the diversion of water for any purpose.  This was, in part, the reason for A.B. 52 defining a "dissolved mineral resource exploration borehole" in statute.  This creates a distinctly different type of borehole for dissolved mineral exploration projects only, which allows the operator or claimant to sample water from the borehole.  This sampling is necessary for dissolved mineral resources exploration.  These new regulations now allow claim holders to explore for dissolved mineral resources without obtaining a water right.  These regulations are meant to create a legal opportunity for the exploration of dissolved mineral resources, not to extend authority into hard-rock exploration borehole drilling.  These regulations are also intended for environmental and safety concerns that are specific to drilling in areas of potential conflict with fluid minerals, high temperature gradients, or where fresh water and brine aquifers could be commingled without proper casing design and construction.