Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 4. Opencut Mining Reclamation

Plan Of Operation -- Requirements

82-4-434. Plan of operation -- requirements. (1) The department shall accept a plan of operation if the department finds that the plan complies with the requirements of this part and the rules adopted pursuant to this part and that after the opencut operation is completed, the affected land will be reclaimed to a productive use. Once the plan of operation is accepted by the department, it becomes a part of the permit but is subject to annual review and amendment by the department. Any amendment by the department must comply with the provisions of 82-4-436(2).

(2) A plan of operation must provide:

(a) that the affected land will be reclaimed for one or more specified uses, including but not limited to agriculture, forest, pasture, orchard, cropland, residence, recreation, industry, habitat for wildlife, including food, cover, or water, or other reasonable, practical, and achievable uses;

(b) that soil and other suitable overburden will be salvaged and replaced on affected land, when required by the postmining land use, after completion or termination of that particular phase of the opencut operation. The depth of soil and other suitable overburden to be placed on the reclaimed area must be specified in the plan.

(c) that grading will result in a postmining topography conducive to the designated postmining land use;

(d) that waste will be buried on site in a manner that protects water quality and is compatible with the postmining land use or will be disposed of off site in accordance with state laws and rules;

(e) that all access, haul, and other support roads will be located, constructed, and maintained in a manner that controls and minimizes erosion;

(f) that archaeological and historical values on affected lands will be given legally required protection;

(g) that except for those postmining land uses that do not require vegetation, each surface area of the mined premises that will be disturbed will be revegetated when its use for the opencut operation is no longer required;

(h) that seeding and planting will be done in a manner to achieve a permanent vegetative cover that is suitable for the postmining land use and that retards erosion;

(i) that reclamation will be as concurrent with the opencut operation as feasible and will be completed within a specified length of time;

(j) a declaration by the operator that the operator will comply with applicable federal, state, county, or local regulations, ordinances, and permits, licenses, and approvals for the operation;

(k) for the construction of berms between the opencut operation and residences located within 300 feet of the permit boundary; and

(l) procedures to prevent physical harm to water conveyance facilities or that allow the owner of a water conveyance facility to authorize in writing the relocation or disturbance of the water conveyance facility.

(3) If reclamation according to the plan of operation is not completed in the time specified, the department may:

(a) pursue an administrative order pursuant to 82-4-441;

(b) after 30 days' written notice, order the operator to cease mining and, if the operator does not cease, issue an order to reclaim, a notice of violation, or an order of abatement;

(c) institute an action to enjoin further operation; or

(d) on request of the operator:

(i) extend the timeframe for reclamation-only activities, including revegetation, up to 5 years by submitting the request on a form furnished by the department and provide an updated landowner consultation form and bond, as appropriate; or

(ii) change the postmine land use by submitting the request on a form furnished by the department and provide an updated landowner consultation form and bond, as appropriate.

(4) (a) At any time during the term of the permit, the operator may for good reason submit to the department a new plan of operation or amendments to the existing plan, including extensions of time for reclamation.

(b) The department may approve the proposed new plan of operation or amendments to the existing plan if:

(i) the new plan of operation or amendments comply with the requirements of this section; and

(ii) (A) the operator has in good faith conducted opencut operations according to the existing plan of operation; or

(B) it is highly improbable that reclamation will be successful unless the existing plan of operation is replaced or amended.

(5) The permit, plan of operation, and amendments accepted by the department are a public record and are open to inspection.

History: En. Sec. 10, Ch. 326, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 23, Ch. 39, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 50-1510; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 280, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 58, Ch. 16, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 413, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. sec. 36, Ch. 308, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 507, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 325, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 385, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 334, L. 2019; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 545, L. 2021.