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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

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Water Quality Permit Program

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Water Quality Permit Program - Metal Mining Activities

DEQs fact sheet, Water Quality Permits for Metal Mining Activities, describes all water quality permits required for metal mining/prospecting and ore processing operations that discharge wastewater to the land and state waters. This fact sheet also provides contact information for related mining authorities because DEQ requires permittees to comply with requirements of local, state and federal agencies in Oregon.

In the following sections, DEQ has additional information and hyperlinks to Internet web pages of water quality permits and applications required for metal mining in Oregon.

Permitting procedures and fees for DEQ's water quality permits are listed in Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 340-045.  Fees for suction dredge permits are in ORS 468B.052.

NPDES 700PM General Permit

Proposed 700PM General Permit Renewal

DEQ is in the process of renewing the 700PM general permit. DEQ conducted a public comment period on the proposed permit renewal that ended in April 2014.

DEQ anticipates the renewed 700PM permit will be effective in Spring 2015. When the renewed 700PM permit is issued, DEQ will require an application for the renewed 700PM permit with the annual fee and surcharge.

Current NPDES 700PM General Permit
Expires Dec. 31, 2014

DEQ will NOT have the renewed 700PM permit ready to issue or be effective on January 1, 2015. DEQ will provide a new application after the renewed 700PM permit is issued.

Operators of in-water non-motorized mining equipment don't need to apply for coverage or pay the fee, but operators must follow applicable parts of the current 700PM permit, including not using equipment where fish eggs are present.

DEQ references supplemental documents for conditions to protect water quality and beneficial uses in the current 700PM permit.  Persons assigned to this permit must not operate a suction dredge more than 16 horsepower or with an inside diameter intake nozzle greater than four inches in essential salmon habitat.  Suction dredging is allowed only during the in-water work schedule (Timing of In-Water Work to Protect Fish and Wildlife Resources) as set by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, unless that agency has given expressed written authorization.  Suction dredging is not allowed in state scenic waterways.  No wastewater discharges are allowed where the visible turbidity plume affects the intake of a drinking water source from any placer mining operation.  Measures must be taken to prevent the spreading of invasive species.

With the exceptions given in Special Condition 19 of Schedule C in the current 700PM permit, suction dredging is prohibited on any stream segment that is listed as water quality limited for sediment, turbidity, or toxics on the list published by DEQ. DEQ provides a table of the 303(d) Listed Streams and TMDL-Approved Streams for suction dredging.

Mining must not cause any measureable increase in turbidity in the Diamond Peak, Kalmiopsis, Eagle Cap, Gearhart Mountain, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Mountain Lakes, Oregon Islands, Strawberry Mountain, Three Arch Rocks, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas.  Measureable increase in turbidity is measured as visible turbidity.

Operators of dredges who are ineligible for coverage under this NPDES 700PM permit may apply for an individual NPDES permit.

You may also need a general authorization or removal-fill permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands in addition to DEQ's 700PM permit. DSL's Recreational & Small-scale Placer Mining web page has both permitting and Essential Salmon Habitat and Scenic Waterways information.

Reference Materials for 700PM Application and General Permit

Policy Clarifications for DEQ's 700PM Suction Dredge Mining Permit

Placer Mining on Tribal Lands

Assignment of 700PM general permit coverage does not authorize discharges to surface waters from suction dredge mining operations on tribal lands. The State of Oregon does not have jurisdiction to regulate surface water discharges on tribal lands; that authority lies with either the tribe or the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, assignment under the 700PM general permit does not authorize discharges from mining operations into waterways that constitute a boundary of a tribal reservation. Mining in these waters would require an individual discharge permit from DEQ to ensure that tribal water quality standards are protected.

Placer Mining on Federal Lands

Mining activities on federal lands need to be conducted in compliance with the DEQ permit and with any additional terms or conditions established by a federal agency. Before undertaking mining activities on federal lands in Oregon, miners should contact the appropriate federal district office to see if there are any restrictions or conditions with regard to mining activities or access to areas where mining will take place. Requirements may differ from one district to another.

U.S. Forest Service (Region 6): Call the district ranger for the national forest where you want to mine or see

U.S. Bureau of Land Management: See or call 503- 808-6008

Other Mining Discharges: Individual NPDES Permit

DEQ requires an individual NPDES permit for metal mining activities with wastewater discharges to Oregon waters that do not qualify for a 700PM permit. An individual NPDES permit is required for high bank machines or other metal mining activities which are located on the bank or upland and discharge to a stream or groundwater. Large suction dredges (powered or siphon/gravity) or mining activities using chemical agents (such as cyanide, flocculants) require an individual NPDES permit to discharge to state waters.

This individual permit only applies to a specific operation and location or mining claim.

New individual NPDES permit application forms and fees:

  • OAR 340-075-0075 Permit Fee Schedule - Table 70A for application fee and Type B11-B12 of Table 70B for annual fees due with application submittal. An application must be submitted to the Oregon DEQ for coverage under the Water Pollution Control Facilities 600 General Permit. Applicants will receive a signed copy of the permit after processing the application.
  • ORS 468B.052 ($300) for suction dredges with an inside hose diameter of greater than 6 inches, but not more than 8 inches.
  • Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) signed by the local land use authority;
  • EPA Form 1; and
  • EPA Form 2D for new industrial process wastewater or any mixture of process wastewater, non process wastewater and/or stormwater.

Existing individual NPDES permit renewal forms and fees:

Small Off-Stream Mining and Ore Processing: General WPCF 600 Permit

DEQs general Water Pollution Control Facilities 600 permit covers sources of small-scale mining operations and non-chemical ore-processing methods with disposal of wastewater by evaporation and/or seepage. Operations must be off-stream above ordinary high water level, and discharge to Oregon waters is prohibited.

WPCF 600 Application Form and Permit:

  • WPCF 600 Application Form
  • WPCF 600 Permit - This permit copy is provided for reference purposes only.  An Application must be submitted to Oregon DEQ for coverage under the WPCF 600 General Permit.  Applicants will receive a signed copy of the permit after processing the application.

Large Off-Stream Mining and Ore Processing: Individual WPCF Permit

DEQ requires an individual WPCF permit for wastewater management if an owner or operator proposes a metal mining activity that processes more than 10,000 cubic yards of ore per year with no discharge to Oregon waters.

This individual permit only applies to a specific operation and location or mining claim.

New individual WPCF permit application forms and fees:

  • OAR 340-075-0075 Permit Fee Schedule - Table 70A for application fee and Type B11-B12 of Table 70B for annual fees due with application submittal);
  • LUCS signed by the local land use authority; and
  • DEQ WPCF-N for new industrial wastewater management with no discharge to state waters.

Existing WPCF permit renewal form and fee:

Stormwater Permitting Considerations

Metal mining activity owners or operators may need to also register for permit coverage under additional general stormwater discharge permits.

For off-stream activities, miners often utilize all local water resources including stormwater to fill off-stream ponds (engineered impoundments, excavated pits, or natural land depressions) to operate the high bank machine, trommel, or powered sluice box. Stormwater may be diverted from mining activities to prevent contact or minimize the volume of contaminated stormwater to manage. Stormwater contacting any mining activity must be managed on site (seepage and evaporation) or an industrial stormwater discharge permit is required.

Program topics and current news is provided on the NPDES Stormwater Discharge Permits web page.

Industrial Stormwater General NPDES 1200-Z Permit: DEQ requires an application for this permit. The permit covers potential industrial stormwater discharges to Oregon waters from Standard Industrial Classification Code 10 (SIC 10) metal mining operations if the stormwater will contact mining materials and/or waste (such as overburden, raw material, intermediate product or waste products). DEQ requires a stormwater pollution prevention and control plan with applications for 1200-Z permit coverage.

For information, forms, and the general permit for industrial stormwater discharges, visit DEQ's NPDES Stormwater Discharge Permits Industrial Activities web page.

Construction Stormwater General NPDES 1200-C Permit: DEQ requires a general NPDES 1200-C permit application for potential stormwater discharges from construction activities that will disturb one or more acres with potential stormwater runoff to Oregon waters or conveyance systems (such as a catch basin, storm drain, ditch, pipe, culvert, etc.) leading to state surface waters. Construction activities include clearing, grading, excavation and stockpiling. DEQ also requires an erosion and sediment control plan with this permit application.

For information, forms, and the general permit for construction stormwater discharges, visit DEQ's NPDES Stormwater Discharge Permits Construction Activities web page.

[Small Suction Dredges/General NPDES]   [Other Prospecting/Mining Discharges]   [Small Off-Stream Mining]   [Large Off-Stream Mining]   [Stormwater Permitting]


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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
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