Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 4. Opencut Mining Reclamation

Filing Of Lien For Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project

82-4-446. Filing of lien for abandoned mine reclamation project. (1) Before commencement of a project using public funds to restore or reclaim property or to abate, control, or prevent adverse effects of past mining practices on private property, the department may file a notice of the right to claim a lien in the clerk and recorder's office in the county in which the majority of the property lies.

(2) If the department expends or allocates public funds conducting mine reclamation work under this part and if the department determines, based on an appraisal by an independent qualified appraiser chosen by the department, that the work has resulted or will result in a significant increase in the fair market value of property, the department may file a lien against the property reclaimed.

(3) Within 6 months after the completion of the project, the department shall itemize the funds expended and may file a lien statement. The lien statement must include:

(a) the value of the property before commencing the work of restoration or reclamation or abatement, control, or prevention of adverse effects of the past mining practices;

(b) the value of the property after the work has been completed;

(c) a listing of the appraisal upon which the values in subsections (3)(a) and (3)(b) are based and the location where those appraisals may be examined;

(d) the amount of public funds spent by the department on the project; and

(e) the amount of the lien.

(4) The amount of the lien must be the lesser of either the increase in the value of the property or the amount of public funds actually expended by the department.

(5) A lien may not be filed under this section against the property of a person who owned the surface rights prior to May 2, 1977, and who did not consent to, participate in, or exercise control over the mining operation that necessitated the reclamation performed under this part.

(6) If a lien is filed, the department shall send, by certified mail to the owner's last-known address, copies of the lien, the statement of costs, and the appraisals to the owner of record of the property.

(7) The lien provided in this section is effective as of the date of expenditure of the public funds and has priority over all other liens or security interests that have attached to the property that is the subject of the lien, whenever those liens may have arisen, second only to real estate taxes imposed upon the property.

(8) Within 60 days after the department files the lien, the owner of the property to which the lien provided for in this section attaches may petition the district court for the county in which the majority of the property is located asking the district court to resolve disputes regarding the amount of actual funds spent by the department or to determine the increase in the market value of the property as a result of the restoration or reclamation or abatement, control, or prevention of the adverse effects of past mining practices. If it differs from the department's statement, the amount found by the court to be the lesser of the actual funds spent or the increase in market value is the amount of the lien and that amount must be recorded with the department's statement.

(9) A lien placed on property under this section may be satisfied by payment to the department of the amount of the lien. The department may accept partial payments on terms and conditions that the department specifies, but the lien is satisfied only to the extent of the value of the consideration received. A lien must be satisfied, to the extent of the value of the consideration received, at the time of transfer of ownership. Unsatisfied portions remain as a lien on the property. When a lien is partially or wholly satisfied, the department shall file with the clerk and recorder with whom the lien is filed an instrument releasing the lien in whole or in part.

(10) A lien placed on property under this section renews automatically, without a requirement on the part of the department to file a continuation notice, until the time that the lien is fully satisfied. Interest is payable on unsatisfied liens or portions of the liens provided for in this section, and it must be accumulated at the rate of 10% a year and may not be compounded.

(11) Funds derived from the satisfaction of liens established under this part must be deposited in the abandoned mine reclamation fund account from which the project was funded.

History: En. Sec. 3, Ch. 329, L. 1995.