Opencut News

Public Comment for Nelcon, Inc., Yager Permit Application, Opencut #2900

The Opencut Section conducted an open house meeting for this permit application on April 26, 2017 at Jaycees Hall in Laurel, Montana. The application can be viewed at: https// by entering "Yager" in the "Site Name" box and clicking "Submit." To submit a public comment click here. Thank you for taking the time to comment on the application. 

Safety Fest MT

DEQ Opencut will be presenting at the Havre Safety Fest, May 23 to 25. Click here for details and registration.

Stake Holder Group

The next meeting has been scheduled for July 19, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., Metcalf Building Room 111. The call in information is toll free 1-866-906-9888 passcode 7508058. The minutes from the previous meeting can be found here.

BLM Mineral Ownership Pamphlet

This pamphlet describes how to determine if the sub-surface minerals are owned by BLM or the private land owner. Prior to submitting an Opencut application be sure to verify mineral ownership.

Cultural Resource Submittal Procedure

Submit two hard copies and one digital copy (CD/DVD/Thumb Drive or File Transfer Service) of the following to:

James Strait
Montana DEQ
Dir. Office
1520 E 6th Ave
Helena, MT 59601

Do not submit copies of the Archaeological Reports to Opencut as this is confidential data.  Opencut only requires the “Concurrence” letter from SHPO to be submitted with the application.

Please ensure there is an un-attached and completed CRABS form accompanying the report:

Montana File Transfer Service instructions:  DO NOT send via email.

Archaeology Links:
SHPO Forms Website:
SHPO Consultant List:
Request a SHPO report:  (Ensure you put “Opencut Operation” in the “Project Description” location)

Click here for the process of completing and submitting a Class III Archaeological Report (i.e.,-obtaining SHPO "Concurrence"). 

Public Comment for Riverside Contracting, Inc., RS1 Site, Opencut #2824

The Opencut Section conducted a public meeting on June 20, 2016 for the Riverside Contracting, Inc., RS1 Site, Opencut #2824. Comments will be accepted for this site throughout the permitting process. To submit a public comment click here. Thank you for taking the time to comment on the application. 

Opencut's Sage Grouse Notice

Sage Grouse Click here to see the latest information about Sage Grouse Requirements from the Montana Sage Grouse Program.

Opencut Overview

Regulated Activities

The Opencut Mining Act (82-4-401 et seq., MCA) and regulations apply to the mining of bentonite, clay, scoria, soil materials, peat, sand or gravel.  An operator may not conduct Opencut mining operations that result in the removal of a total of 10,000 cubic yards or more of materials and overburden until DEQ has issued a permit to the operator.  An operator conducting a number of operations, all of which results in the removal of 10,000 cubic yards or more of materials and overburden in the aggregate, is subject to the provisions of this part, except as provided in this section.  Exemptions may be available for operators currently holding a reclamation permit if the new operations will result in the removal of 10,000 cubic yards or less of mineral and overburden.  Specific provisions are required however, and a completed form provided by DEQ must be submitted.  Operations on certain federal or state lands may be exempt if the Board of Environmental Review determines that federal regulations or requirements of other state agencies are at least as stringent as DEQ requirements.

Reclamation of Perfect Concrete Pit
Reclamation of a Gravel Pit (2001)

All Opencut sand and gravel operations must comply with applicable zoning regulations.

An air quality permit from DEQ is required for the operation of any mineral crushing or other processing plants.

The Employment Relations Division of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry enforces mine safety regulations. The division's Safety Bureau works with the mine operator and mining contractors who must report the name of the mine, the location of the mine, the name of the company and contractors operating the mine, the type of mining activity, the date mining activity will begin and other information.

Application Requirements

An operator must submit an application for a reclamation permit on a form furnished by DEQ.  A reclamation bond, a zoning compliance form, plans of the intended operations, and other details of the mine operation are also required.

Upon receipt of an application containing all information in 82-4-432(1) and (2), MCA, DEQ shall, within 30 or 45 days, notify the operator whether or not the application is acceptable.  If the application is not acceptable, DEQ shall include in the notification a detailed identification of deficiencies.

Upon receipt of a revised application DEQ shall, within 10 working days, notify the operator whether the application is acceptable or not.  If the application is unacceptable, then the notice must include a detailed explanation of the remaining deficiencies.  If the application is acceptable, DEQ issues the permit. See 82-4-432(4), MCA.

Permitting Procedures

The application form and accompanying materials (permits, bond, map(s) and reclamation plan, etc...) are reviewed for acceptability to ensure that each item is addressed correctly.  An on-site evaluation is conducted to determine if the land is mineable and reclaimable and to make sure site conditions are as specified in the application. The site inspection may be conducted with the operator and other interested persons.


DEQ will issue a permit only if the bond, reclamation plan and other requirements of Title 82, Chapter 4, Part 4 are fulfilled. The reclamation plan must ensure that the operator will establish vegetative cover commensurate with the proposed land use, will appropriately protect ground and surface water and will remove or bury metal and other waste, etc.