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 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.
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.
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.