Construction Aggregate, Clay, Coal,
and Geophysical Exploration Permit Application Procedures

Obtaining a prospecting permit for construction aggregate, clay, coal, soil testing and geophysical exploration is not difficult. It generally takes 3 to 4 weeks to complete the process from beginning to end and the use of electronic communication can help keep the application moving along. This web site will provide much of the information that you need to submit and complete the application process. Please let us know if there is something that you think is missing from this site.

The key factor is to contact the Department of Trust Lands as soon as possible to get the process started using the on-line application form. An early first contact is important for timely completion of the process.

Track the status of your application on-line. You can track the status of your application on-line with the web based tracking tool. Real-time information is available showing the steps completed in processing the application and also any outstanding deficiencies or missing information. After you have submitted an application, it will be logged into the system and within two business days you will generally be assigned a tracking number. This tracking number can be used to track the status of your application. All rights-of-way currently in progress have tracking numbers. Click here to enter the tracking number and find the status of the application.

Prospecting Procedures and Forms

Sample Documents

The following are examples of documents used for prospecting and exploration. These documents are for informational purposes only. The Department of Trust Lands will complete the final documents during the easement process.

Contacts Us

Application Procedures and Guidelines

Construction aggregate (gravel, scoria, sand, clay, etc.) procedures:

  1. Applications are limited to a total of 6 quarter sections (160 acres) per county per applicant during any 3 month period. Tracts must be listed by quarter section on the application.
  2. A prospecting permit does not create any preference for a lease. Leases for one year within certain limitations as identified in 85-06-03-06 of the Construction Aggregate Rules can be issued by the Commissioner. Leases for longer than 1 year will generally be bid at public auction. The exception is for political subdivisions which may request a lease for longer than 1 year without public auction.
  3. Permittees are not allowed to build any roads, trails or to otherwise alter the terrain of the land's surface for vehicular use. Travel shall be limited to existing roads, trails, or sod when ground conditions are such that damage to the land will not occur.

Geophysical Exploration Application Guidelines:

  1. A geophysical exploration permit from the Department of Trust Lands does not imply that permission is given by the mineral lessee(s) for geophysical exploration. It is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain permission from the mineral lessees.
  2. The applicant must include the anticipated schedule of operations, the type of exploration program (i.e. shot hole, vibroseis) and forward a pdf copy of the exploration map for the entire project.
  3. The State may own the minerals and not the surface. Therefore, the applicant must identify the tracts where only the minerals are owned by the state and also those tracts with both state surface and mineral ownership.
  4. Permittees are not allowed to build any roads, trails or to otherwise alter the terrain of the land's surface for vehicular use for the purpose of geophysical exploration. Travel shall be limited to existing roads, trails, or sod when ground conditions are such that damage to the land will not occur.
  5. The Department of Trust Lands will inspect the project location for damage following completion of the geophysical exploration project.

Planning and Preconstruction Survey Permit:

This is a long term permit (5 years) issued to surveying and engineering firms who need access to trust lands to conduct metes-and-bounds, centerline and cadastral land surveys, ocular reconnaissance cultural resource surveys, and wetland delineations in the normal course of business for clients. This gives access to trust lands in general after a client has applied for a right-of-way on or across trust land(s). Applications for this permit can be submitted here.


1707 North 9th Street | PO Box 5523 | Bismarck, ND 58506-5523 | Telephone: (701)328-2800 | Fax: (701)328-3650

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