82-4-301. Legislative intent and findings. (1) The legislature, mindful of its constitutional obligations under Article II, section 3, and Article IX of the Montana constitution, has enacted this part.
(2) It is the legislature's intent that:
(a) the requirements of this part provide adequate remedies for the protection of the environmental life support system from degradation and provide adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion and degradation of natural resources;
(b) tailings storage facilities are designed, operated, monitored, and closed in a manner that:
(i) meets state-of-practice engineering design standards;
(ii) uses applicable, appropriate, and current technologies and techniques as are practicable given site-specific conditions and concerns; and
(iii) provides protection of human health and the environment; and
(c) the regulation of tailings storage facilities is not prescriptive in detail but allows for adaptive management using evolving best engineering practices based on the recommendations of qualified, experienced engineers.
(3) The extraction of mineral by mining is a basic and essential activity making an important contribution to the economy of the state and the nation. At the same time, proper reclamation of mined land and former exploration areas not brought to mining stage is necessary to prevent undesirable land and surface water conditions detrimental to the general welfare, health, safety, ecology, and property rights of the citizens of the state. Mining and exploration for minerals take place in diverse areas where geological, topographical, climatic, biological, and sociological conditions are significantly different, and the specifications for reclamation and tailings storage facilities must vary accordingly. It is not practical to extract minerals or explore for minerals required by our society without disturbing the surface or subsurface of the earth and without producing waste materials, and the very character of many types of mining operations precludes complete restoration of the land to its original condition. The legislature finds that land reclamation and tailings storage as provided in this part will allow exploration for and mining of valuable minerals while adequately providing for the subsequent beneficial use of the lands to be reclaimed.
(4) The legislature finds that the mining of rock products from or just below the ground surface not containing sulfides is subject to fewer permitting requirements than other minerals because:
(a) the mining of nonsulfide rock products from or just below the ground surface creates fewer and more limited environmental concerns than the mining of other minerals;
(b) nonsulfide rock products are typically used in their natural state and not subject to chemical processing; and
(c) water quality and quantity are not significantly affected by mining of nonsulfide rock products from or just below the ground surface.