The Minerals Program does not grant permission to mine. The Program issues four different types of reclamation permits based on the type of operation, characterization of the material being mined, and in one case the exclusive use of the mined material for highway or utility projects under government projects. Reclamation permits issued under the Construction Materials Act or the Hardrock Act in the Minerals Program are issued for the life of the operation. There are provisions in the two Acts for operators to enter into two five-year periods of temporary cessation; however, by the end of the second five-year period, operators must reinitiate operations or begin reclamation. Once an operator has completed a phase of mining, the operator has five years to complete reclamation for that phase.
Operators may make revisions to their approved permits at any time through the appropriate revision process. Technical Revision is a change in the permit or an application for a permit, which has only a minor effect upon the approved or proposed Reclamation Plan. Amendment is a change in the permit or an application for a permit which increases the acreage of the affected land or which has a significant effect upon the approved or proposed Reclamation Plan.
Each operator must submit to the Division an annual report and fee, which funds the Minerals Program in part. The remaining money used to run the Minerals Program comes from a General Fund appropriation of Severance Tax. The annual report must describe, in general terms, the mining and reclamation activities conducted over the preceding year.
Minerals Program/Limited Impact OperationsReferring to section 34-32-110 of the Mined Land Reclamation Act, a 110 Limited Impact Permit denotes an operation limited in size of acreage that can be disturbed, and for hard rock operations, the tons of material that can be mined on a yearly basis. It also implies that the material being mined and disturbed is not toxic or acid producing. Several types of limited impact permits are issued.
Minerals Program/Special Mining OperationsSpecial permits are issued only for use on projects where the material is sand, gravel, or aggregate and such material is used exclusively on a government contracted highway or utility project. Allowing commencement of mining without unduly delaying construction projects, these expedited permits are often called 111 permits, after section 34-32-111 of the Act.
Mineral Program/112 Regular Mining OperationsA 112 Regular Permit is a permit issued for operations disturbing more than 10 acres, and for hard rock operations mining more than 70,000 tons per year. Award of a 112 permit implies that the material being mined is not toxic or acid producing. It gets its title from section 34-32-112 of the Mined Land Reclamation Act.
Minerals Program/Designated Mining OperationsThe category of Designated Mining Operations deals with permits issued to operations considered to be of higher environmental risk than 110 Limited Permits or 112 Regular Permits. They generally mine and disturb materials that are toxic or acid-producing, and may include toxic chemicals in on-site processing. Permitting and bonding requirements are more rigorous. There are several types of Designated Mining Operations – 110d, 112d-1, 112d-2, and 112d-3 – based on size of disturbance and amount of material mined in any one year.
Prospecting and ExplorationProspecting and exploration are terms used interchangeably in DRMS regulation, referring to the activity of searching for, discovering, and characterizing coal or mineral deposits. Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting permits are treated on a case-by-case basis. Reclamation plans and bonding are required for prospecting permits. A prospecting permit does not give a legal right of entry. The permit allows the operator to conduct prospecting within the rules and regulations of DRMS. Other permits and right of entry may be required before prospecting can commence.