Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 3. Metal Mine Reclamation

Inspection -- Issuance Of Operating Permit -- Modification, Amendment, Or Revision

82-4-337. Inspection -- issuance of operating permit -- modification, amendment, or revision. (1) (a) The department shall review all applications for operating permits for completeness and compliance with the requirements of this part and rules adopted pursuant to this part within:

(i) for rock products, 60 days of receipt of the initial application and within 20 days of receipt of responses to notices of deficiencies. If an applicant for a rock products operating permit responds to a notice of deficiency more than 1 year after its receipt, the department has 60 days to review the response to the notice of deficiency.

(ii) for all other applications not covered under subsection (1)(a)(i), 90 days of receipt of the initial application and within 30 days of receipt of responses to notices of deficiencies.

(b) The department's initial notice must note all deficiency issues, and the department may not in a later notice raise an issue pertaining to the initial application that was not raised in the initial notice. The department shall notify the applicant concerning completeness and compliance as soon as possible. An application is considered complete and compliant unless the applicant is notified of deficiencies within the appropriate review period.

(c) The review for completeness and compliance is limited to areas in regard to which the department has statutory authority.

(d) When providing notice of deficiencies, the department shall identify each section in this part or rules adopted pursuant to this part related to the deficiency.

(e) When an application is complete and compliant, the department shall:

(i) declare in writing that the application is complete and compliant;

(ii) detail in writing the substantive requirements of this part and how the application complies with those requirements;

(iii) when an application submitted after October 1, 2015, includes a tailings storage facility, verify the receipt of the certified design document pursuant to 82-4-376, the panel report pursuant to 82-4-377, and the tailings operation, maintenance, and surveillance manual pursuant to 82-4-379; and

(iv) issue a draft permit. The department may, as a condition of issuing the draft permit, require that the applicant obtain other permits required by law but not provided for in this part. However, the department may not withhold issuance of the draft permit in the absence of those permits.

(f) Prior to issuance of a draft permit, the department shall inspect the site. If the site is not accessible because of extended adverse weather conditions, the department shall inspect the site at the first available opportunity and may extend the time period prescribed in subsection (1)(a) by a term agreed to by the applicant.

(g) Issuance of the draft permit as a final permit is the proposed state action subject to review required by Title 75, chapter 1.

(h) If the applicant is not notified that there are deficiencies or inadequacies in the application or that the application is compliant within the time period required by subsection (1)(a), the final operating permit must be issued upon receipt of the bond as required in 82-4-338 and pursuant to the requirements of subsection (1)(i) of this section. The department shall promptly notify the applicant of the form and amount of bond that will be required. After the department notifies the applicant of deficiencies in the application within the time period required by subsection (1)(a), no further action by the department is required until the applicant has responded to the deficiency notification.

(i) Except as provided in subsection (1)(h), a final permit may not be issued until:

(i) sufficient bond has been submitted pursuant to 82-4-338;

(ii) the information and certification have been submitted pursuant to 82-4-335(9);

(iii) the department has found that permit issuance is not prohibited by 82-4-335(8) or 82-4-341(7);

(iv) the review pursuant to Title 75, chapter 1, is completed or 1 year has elapsed after the date the draft permit was issued, whichever is less. The applicant may by written waiver extend this time period.

(v) the department has made a determination that the application and the final permit meet the substantive requirements of this part and the rules adopted pursuant to this part.

(j) If the department decides to hire a third-party contractor to prepare an environmental impact statement on the application, the department shall prepare a list of no fewer than four contractors acceptable to the department and shall provide the applicant with a copy of the list. The applicant shall provide the department with a list of at least 50% of the contractors from the department's list. The department shall select its contractor from the list provided by the applicant.

(2) (a) After issuance of a draft permit but prior to receiving a final permit, an applicant may propose modifications to the application. If the proposed modifications substantially change the proposed plan of operation or reclamation, the department may terminate the draft permit and review the application as modified pursuant to subsection (1) for completeness and compliance and issuance of a new draft permit.

(b) The department shall consult with the applicant before placing stipulations in a draft or final permit. Permit stipulations in a draft or final permit may, unless the applicant consents, address only compliance issues within the substantive requirements of this part or rules adopted pursuant to this part. For a stipulation imposed without the applicant's consent, the department shall provide to the applicant in writing the reason for the stipulation, a citation to the statute or rule that gives the department the authority to impose the stipulation, and, for a stipulation imposed in the final permit that was not contained in the draft permit, the reason that the stipulation was not contained in the draft permit.

(c) Within 40 days of the completion of the review required by Title 75, chapter 1, or 1 year from the date the draft permit is issued, whichever is less, the department shall issue its bond determination.

(d) When the department prepares an environmental review jointly with a federal agency acting under the National Environmental Policy Act, the applicant may by written waiver extend the 1-year deadline contained in subsection (1)(i)(iv).

(e) Upon submission of the bond and subject to subsection (1)(i), the department shall issue the final permit.

(3) The final operating permit must be granted for the period required to complete the operation and is valid until the operation authorized by the permit is completed or abandoned, unless the permit is suspended or revoked by the department as provided in this part.

(4) The final operating permit must provide that the reclamation plan may be modified by the department, upon proper application of the permittee or after timely notice and opportunity for hearing, at any time during the term of the permit and for any of the following reasons:

(a) to modify the requirements so that they will not conflict with existing laws;

(b) when the previously adopted reclamation plan is impossible or impracticable to implement and maintain;

(c) when significant environmental problem situations not permitted under the terms of regulatory permits held by the permittee are revealed by field inspection and the department has the authority to address them under the provisions of this part.

(5) (a) The modification of a final operating permit may be a major or minor permit amendment or a permit revision. A modification of the operating permit, including a modification necessary to comply with the requirements of existing law as interpreted by a court of competent jurisdiction must be processed in accordance with the procedures for an application for a permit amendment or revision that are established pursuant to 82-4-342 and this section.

(b) The modification of an operating permit may not be finalized and an existing bond amount may not be increased until the permit modification procedures and analysis described in subsection (5)(a) are completed.

History: En. Sec. 10, Ch. 252, L. 1971; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 281, L. 1974; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 427, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 50-1210(1), (2); amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 588, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 453, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 637, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 472, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 598, L. 1993; (4) thru (7)En. Sec. 5, Ch. 598, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 204, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 392, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 295, Ch. 42, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 12, Ch. 299, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 287, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 63, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 337, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 410, L. 2011; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 399, L. 2015; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 152, L. 2021.