Protecting public health and the environment
Land Reclamation Program Authorization
Metallic Minerals Waste Management Act (Metallic Minerals Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement)
Surface Coal Mining Law (Coal Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement)
- RSMo 444.500 through 444.755 (Strip Mining Law, “Old Coal Law”)
- RSMo 444.800 through 444.970 (Surface Coal Mining Law, “New Coal Law”)
The Missouri Mining Commission
The Missouri Mining Commission regulates surface mining for coal and industrial minerals. The commission also administers the reclamation of coal mine lands abandoned prior to the passage of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Law (August 3, 1977). The eight-member commission includes five public members appointed by the governor plus the director of the Water Protection Program, the state geologist, and the director of the Department of Conservation.
The Land Reclamation Program
The primary responsibility and mandate of the program is reclamation of mined lands. While we inspect and enforce the mining laws during operation, the real goal is final reclamation after the mining is complete. The program has most contact with other programs when member of the public object to or have complaints concerning a mining permit or operation.
For mine sites under permit, the program is responsible for enforcing reclamation provisions of the mining laws. All of Missouri’s mining laws require the post-mining restoration of land. This includes coal mining, industrial minerals mining and metallic minerals waste disposal. Field mining laws differs in their applicability. See the individual references below.
The program administers the Metallic Minerals Waste Management Act (lead, iron, zinc, copper, gold and silver) for the department. The program’s involvement in metallic minerals relates to permitting, inspecting and enforcement of the metallic mineral waste product as a result of operations, but only the placement and reclamation of mining waste.
Regulatory activities include the handling of materials such as waste rock, mine water, slag, and revegetation on the areas of waste storage. This does not include any of the areas associated with metal mining such as vertical shafts, shop areas or smelters. Environmental issues include erosion by wind or water, sedimentation of materials off the permit that affect ground not under permit, and groundwater issues. Groundwater monitoring is required.
Metallic Minerals Topics of Current Interest:
- Financial Assurance – Doe Run currently provides reclamation assurance by way of a corporate letter of guarantee. This will not be adequate in case of bankruptcy.
- Closure Plans – As lead mines cease operations, the waste management areas must have an approved closure plan on file to permanently stabilize through reclamation these tailings storage areas.
The program regulates the permitting, inspection, enforcement and reclamation of all industrial minerals surface mining activities. The most common industrial minerals are limestone, clay, sand and gravel. Lesser known industrial minerals are barite, tar sands, shale, oil shales, granite and trap rock. Industrial minerals specifically do not include coal, lead, iron, silver, copper or other metals as these are covered in other laws described above and below.
Nearly every quarry must obtain air and water permits as well as a mining permit. Our inspectors will observe and refer issues related to air and water to the appropriate region staff. Mining permits do not allow waterborne sedimentation to leave the permit area, even if the operator owns more land than is under mining permit. Dust emissions for the mining site are not specifically regulated, unless dust crosses a property line.
Our regulatory activities include the handling of materials such as waste rock, topsoil or over burden, but do not include processing areas, the stockpiles of saleable products and the ground where they are stored. Environmental issues include erosion by wind or water, include blasting, noise or truck traffic. Groundwater monitoring is not required.
Industrial Minerals Topics of Current Interest:
- Sand and Gravel – Rules for stream protection, legislation to provide greater exemption for landowners.
- Development vs. Mining – Some developers sell rock from a construction development site. When is this considered mining, and when is it just development? Current law and regulation address this issue.
- Public Meetings – A public meeting allows the public to meet with the mine operator and department staff when the public has concerns with a new or expansion industrial mineral mining permit.
Sand and Gravel
This issue is a subset of Industrial Minerals, but can be a high profile issue for several reasons. While these commodities are regulated under the same law as quarries, the applicability is substantially different. This type of mining consists largely of skimming materials off of gravel bars, so there is not usually a pit left at the site. As such, there are no reclamation requirements if no other damage to the site or stream channel occurs. In 2004, the program worked with stakeholders to develop stream protection guidelines into rules. Every stakeholder indicated to the commission that they could live with the stream protection regulations that were negotiated at the end of the process. The rules have been in place since 2005.
Sand and Gravel Topics of Current Interest:
In 2009, the legislature passed legislation that gives greater permit exemptions to private landowners. They are now able to sell some gravel under a new permit exemption. However, the same regulations that apply to commercial gravel mining operations also apply to landowners. Currently, local governments are exempt only if they use their own personnel and equipment to extract gravel.
The coal law contains requirements to ensure all coal exploration and active coal surface mining operation are planned and operated in a manner that will not be detrimental to public health, safety, or cause environmental pollution. The surface coal mining law is extensive and comprehensive encompassing almost, if not all, environmental aspects.
Our regulatory activities include the handling of materials such as overburden, topsoil and revegetation of the mine site. In the case of coal mining the processing area, the stockpiles of saleable product and the ground where they are stored receive even greater regulatory protection due to the toxic nature of coal and its byproducts. Environmental issues include erosion by wind or water, sedimentation of materials off the permit that affect ground not under permit, and includes blasting, hydrologic monitoring of both surface and groundwater and proving the past mining soil productivity of the reclaimed land.
The “Surface Coal Mining Law” is very comprehensive with respect to environmental and public protection from the adverse impacts of mining. For a more complete overview of this law, please contact us. There is too much detail to provide here.
Coal Mining Topics of Current Interest:
Two active coal mines remain in Missouri. The program continues to monitor these mines on a monthly basis to ensure compliance with the law and contemporaneous reclamation requirements.
The program’s Coal Unit oversees completing reclamation at mine sites where permits have been revoked. Normally, a reclamation bond will be collected in this type of case and those monies are then used by the program to hire contractors to perform final reclamation of the site. This primarily relates to coal mining, but also includes industrial minerals sites. Since most bond forfeitures are related to coal mining, this is largely a subset of the coal law.
Bond Forfeiture Topics of Current Interest:
- Surety Reclamation in Lieu of Forfeiture – Some sureties prefer to perform reclamation for the mining company in lieu of surrendering the reclamation bond value to the state.
- State Designs and Contracts – Where reclamation bonds have been surrendered, the program must assess, design and implement a final reclamation plan for mining sites.
Abandoned Mine Lands
The Abandoned Mine Land Unit utilizes federal funds to reclaim pre-law coal mine lands. Since a coal tax funds this activity, it is a subset of the coal law. Program staff develops federal grant applications for reclamation projects, supervises engineering and technical contracts for the reclamation design, conducts field investigations to facilitate developing in-house designs and supervises construction activities.
Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Topics of Current Interest:
- Lead Mine Shafts – Hundreds of abandoned lead mine shafts, particularly in southwest Missouri, were left open and are considered to be dangerous. This program is able to reclaim and safely seal some of these each year with coal AML funding.
Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.