Opencut News

Opencut News

FAA Airport Regulations for Opencut Mining Sites

Click here for FAA Regulations Handout

Stakeholder Group

The next meeting has been scheduled for June 19th, at 1:00 p.m., Big Horn Resort, 1801 Majestic Lane, Billings MT. To view minutes click here. Handouts for meeting: 

  • Agenda
  • SB 343
  • Draft Updated Plan of Operations and Application - Word
  • Draft Limited Borrow Operation - Word
  • Draft Phase II Release Request - Word
  • Draft Pond and Wetland Design Worksheet - Word
  • Draft Fuel Guideline and Worksheet - Word
  • Draft Determining Depth to Groundwater Worksheet - Word

Opencut Mining-Do You Need a Water Right?

Click Here to access the DNRC flow chart that guides the Operator through whether a water right is required or not for their proposed Opencut site.

Updated Opencut Bond Forms

The Opencut Section has updated ALL Opencut Bond Forms and they have been uploaded to our website. Updated Bond Forms are only needed for NEW Applications requiring a Bond. If you have a currently approved Permit, you do not need to replace your Bond with a new Updated Bond Form. Click here to access them. 

File Transfer How-To

Click here for the slide show presentation for the State's File Transfer Service.

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.

Opencut's Sage Grouse Notice

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

Public Comment

Public Comment for Firstmark Materials-Oscar's Site Gravel Pit-Opencut #3115

The Opencut Section has received a complete Permit Application for the Firstmark Materials – Oscar's site – OC #3115 in Yellowstone County. 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 this application.

Public Comment for Riverside Contracting, Inc.-Donnes Site Gravel Pit-Opencut #3077

The Opencut Section has received a complete Permit Application for the Riverside Contracting, Inc. – Donnes site – OC #3077 in Yellowstone County. 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 this application.

Public Comment for Nelcon Inc.-Ullman Site Gravel Pit-Opencut #3064

The Opencut Section has received a complete Permit Application for the Nelcon, Inc. – Ullman Gravel Pit site – OC #3064 in Richland County. 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 this application.

Public Comment for LaSalle Sand & Gravel Corp-Pioneer Gravel Pit-Opencut #2935

The Opencut Section has received a complete Permit Application for the LaSalle Sand & Gravel Corp – Pioneer Gravel Pit site – OC #2935 in Flathead County. 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 this application.

Public Comment for Todd Townsend, Townsend Pit, Opencut #2903

The Opencut Mining Section conducted a public meeting for this permit application on December 12, 2017 at the Bitteroot River Inn located in Hamilton, Montana. The application can be viewed at https://searchopencutpermits.mt.gov/ by entering 'Townsend' in the 'Site Name' box and clicking 'Submit' or by entering '2903' in the 'Opencut#' box and clicking: 'Submit'

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 this application.

Public Comment for Wade Moudy, Moudy Pit, Opencut #2949

The Opencut Mining Section conducted a public meeting for this permit application on December 12, 2017 at the Bitteroot River Inn located in Hamilton, Montana. The application can be viewed at https://searchopencutpermits.mt.gov/ by entering 'Moudy' in the 'Site Name' box and clicking 'Submit' or by entering '2949' in the 'Opencut#' box and clicking: 'Submit'

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 this application.

Public Comment for Deer Creek Excavating, LLC-Cottonwood Site-Opencut #2864

The Opencut Section has received a complete Permit Application for the Deer Creek Excavating, LLC – Cottonwood site – OC #2864 in Powell County. 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 this application.

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.

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.

Criteria

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.

Opencut Contacts

Physical address: 1218 E 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Mailing address: DEQ Opencut Mining Section, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901
Phone: (406) 444-4970
Fax: (406) 444-4988
Email: DEQOpencut@mt.gov