2000 Montana Legislature

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SENATE BILL NO. 9

INTRODUCED BY C. SWYSGOOD, T. BECK, CRISMORE, DEVLIN, GALLUS, GRIMES, LYNCH, MCCARTHY, PAVLOVICH, QUILICI, SHEA, TASH

Montana State Seal

AN ACT REVISING RECLAMATION REQUIREMENTS TO PROVIDE STANDARDS FOR RECLAMATION OF OPEN PITS AND ROCK FACES; PROVIDING THAT BACKFILLING OF OPEN PITS IS NOT ALWAYS REQUIRED; AMENDING SECTIONS 82-4-302 AND 82-4-336, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DATE.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:



     Section 1.  Section 82-4-302, MCA, is amended to read:

     "82-4-302.  Purpose. (1) The purposes of this part are to provide:

     (a)  that the usefulness, productivity, and scenic values of all lands and surface waters involved in mining and mining exploration within the boundaries and lawful jurisdiction of the state will receive the greatest reasonable degree of protection and reclamation to beneficial use;

     (b)  authority for cooperation between private and governmental entities in carrying this part into effect;

     (c)  for the recognition of the recreational and aesthetic values of land as a benefit to the state of Montana; and

     (d)  priorities and values to the aesthetics of our landscape, waters, and ground cover

     (a) fulfill the responsibilities and exercise the powers delegated by Article IX, section 1(3) and 2(1) of the Montana constitution;

     (b) allow mining as an activity beneficial to the economy of Montana;

     (c) allow the production of minerals to meet the needs of society and the economic demands of the marketplace;

     (d) provide for reclamation that mitigates postreclamation visual contrasts between reclamation lands and adjacent lands;

     (e) provide for reclamation that affords some utility to humans or the environment;

     (f) prevent foreclosure of future access to mineral resources not fully developed by current mining operations;

     (g) mitigate or prevent undesirable offsite environmental impacts; and

     (h) provide authority for cooperation between private and governmental entities in carrying this part into effect.

     (2)  Although both the need for and the practicability of reclamation will control the type and degree of reclamation in any specific instance, the basic objective will be to establish, on a continuing basis, the vegetative cover, soil stability, water condition, and safety condition appropriate to any proposed subsequent use of the area."



     Section 2.  Section 82-4-336, MCA, is amended to read:

     "82-4-336.  Reclamation plan and specific reclamation requirements. (1) Taking into account the site-specific conditions and circumstances, disturbed lands must be reclaimed consistent with the requirements and standards set forth in this section.

     (1)(2) The reclamation plan must provide that reclamation activities, particularly those relating to control of erosion, to the extent feasible, must be conducted simultaneously with the operation and in any case must be initiated promptly after completion or abandonment of the operation on those portions of the complex that will not be subject to further disturbance.

     (3) In the absence of an order by the department providing a longer period, the plan must provide that reclamation activities must be completed not more than 2 years after completion or abandonment of the operation on that portion of the complex.

     (2)(4)  In the absence of emergency or suddenly threatened or existing catastrophe, an operator may not depart from an approved plan without previously obtaining from the department written approval for the proposed change.

     (3)(5)  Provision must be made to avoid accumulation of stagnant water in the mined development area to the extent that it serves as a host or breeding ground for mosquitoes or other disease-bearing or noxious insect life.

     (4)(6)  All final grading must be made with nonnoxious, nonflammable, noncombustible solids unless approval has been granted by the department for a supervised sanitary fill.

     (5)(7)  When mining has left an open pit exceeding 2 acres of surface area and the composition of the floor or walls of the pit are likely to cause formation of acid, toxic, or otherwise pollutive solutions ("objectionable effluents") on exposure to moisture, the reclamation plan must include provisions that adequately provide for:

     (a)  insulation of all faces from moisture or water contact by covering to a depth of 2 feet or more the faces with material or fill not susceptible itself to generation of objectionable effluents in order to mitigate the generation of objectionable effluents; or

     (b)  processing of any objectionable effluents in the pit before they are allowed to flow or be pumped out of the pit to reduce toxic or other objectionable ratios to a level considered safe to humans and the environment by the department; or

     (c)  drainage of any objectionable effluents to settling or treatment basins when the objectionable effluents must be reduced to levels considered safe by the department before release from the settling basin; or

     (d)  absorption or evaporation of objectionable effluents in the open pit itself; and

     (e)  prevention of entrance into the open pit by persons or livestock lawfully upon adjacent lands by fencing, warning signs, and other devices that may reasonably be required by the department.

     (6)(8)  Provisions for vegetative cover must be required in the reclamation plan if appropriate to the future use of the land as specified in the reclamation plan. The reestablished vegetative cover must meet county standards for noxious weed control.

     (7)(9) (a)  The With regard to disturbed land other than open pits and rock faces, the reclamation plan must provide for the reclamation of all disturbed land. Proposed reclamation must provide for the reclamation of disturbed land to comparable utility and stability as that of adjacent areas, except for open pits and rock faces that may not be feasible to reclaim in the same fashion as other disturbed lands.

     (b) In the case of With regard to open pits and rock faces, the reclamation plan must provide for reclamation to a condition:

     (a)(i)  of stability structurally competent to withstand geologic and climatic conditions without significant failure that would be a threat to public safety and the environment;

     (b)(ii)  that affords some utility to humans and or the surrounding natural system to the extent feasible environment; and

     (c)(iii)  that blends with the appearance of the surrounding area to the extent feasible mitigates postreclamation visual contrasts between reclamation lands and adjacent lands.

     (c) The reclamation of open pits and rock faces does not require backfilling, in whole or in part, except and only to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of the applicable provisions of Title 75, chapters 2 and 5.

     (8)(10)  The reclamation plan must provide sufficient measures to ensure public safety and to prevent the pollution of air or water and the degradation of adjacent lands.

     (9)(11)  A reclamation plan must be approved by the department if it adequately provides for the accomplishment of the activities specified in this section requirements and standards set forth in this section.

     (10)(12) The reclamation plan must provide for permanent landscaping and contouring to minimize the amount of precipitation that infiltrates into disturbed areas, including but not limited to tailings impoundments and waste rock dumps. The plan must also provide measures to prevent objectionable postmining ground water discharges."



     Section 3.  Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.



     Section 4.  Applicability. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), [this act] applies retroactively, within the meaning of 1-2-109, to permits and permit amendments approved by the department after September 30, 1995.

     (2) Section 82-4-336(9)(b)(ii) and (9)(b)(iii) do not apply to any reclamation plan approved by the department for a mine at which mining operations have permanently ceased on [the effective date of this act].

     (3) Section 82-4-336(9)(c) does not alter or abrogate any backfilling requirement imposed or approved by the department prior to [the effective date of this act].

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