We work to with landowners, industry and the Missouri Mining Commission to ensure beneficial restoration of mined lands to protect public health, safety and the environment from the adverse effects of mining within the state. All of Missouri’s mining laws require the post-mining restoration of land affected by mining. This includes coal mining, industrial minerals mining and metallic minerals waste disposal areas. Mining laws differ in their applicability.
Missouri Mining Commission
The Missouri Mining Commission makes the final administrative decision regarding surface mining for coal and industrial minerals. The eight-member commission includes five public members appointed by the governor plus the director of the department's Water Protection Program, the state geologist, and the director of the Department of Conservation.
The Missouri Mining Commission is the governing body regarding Missouri’s mining issues set forth in three separate state statutes. These mining statutes protect public health, safety and the environment from the adverse effect of mining and assure the beneficial restoration of mined lands. The Land Reclamation Program carries out the policies of the Missouri Mining Commission and provides the staffing necessary to regulate the state's mining industry.
Program Authorization and Missouri Mining Laws
The primary responsibility and mandate of the department's Land Reclamation Program is to oversee the reclamation of mined lands. That includes implementing and enforcing the mining laws to achieve effective reclamation after the mining is complete. Staff coordinate with other environmental agencies during the permitting process, enforcement of the mining laws and reclamation of abandon mine lands.
- Metallic Minerals Waste Management Act (Metallic Minerals Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement)
- Land Reclamation Act (Industrial Mineral Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement)
- Surface Coal Mining Law (Coal Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement)
Staff administer 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 storage areas 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 waste materials off the permit area that affect ground not under permit, and groundwater issues. Groundwater monitoring is required.
Metallic Minerals Topics of Current Interest
Closure Plans – As metallic mineral mines cease operations, the waste management areas must have an approved closure plan on file, to ensure the tailings area is reclaimed appropriately and permanently stabilized..
Staff regulate the permitting, inspection, enforcement, and reclamation of commercial industrial mineral surface mining activities as defined in the Land Reclamation Act. The most common industrial minerals are limestone, clay, sand and gravel. Lesser known industrial minerals are shale, granite, sandstone, and trap rock. Industrial minerals specifically do not include coal or other metals defined in the Metallic Mineral Waste Management Act as these are covered in other laws.
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 generated at the mining site are regulated as fugitive dust, if dust crosses a property line.
Our regulatory activities include the handling of materials such as waste rock, topsoil or overburden, 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, but do not include blasting, noise or truck traffic. Groundwater monitoring is not required.
Industrial Minerals Topics of Current InterestSand 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 may be requested by anyone when an industrial mineral permit application is out on public notice. The informal public meeting allows the public to meet with the mine operator and department staff to discuss concerns with a proposed industrial mineral mining permit application.
In-stream Sand and Gravel Mining
This type of mining is a subset of Industrial Minerals, but can be a high profile concern 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 no 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 they could live with the stream protection regulations 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. Landowners are now able to sell small quantities of gravel once registered with the Land Reclamation Program without going through the formal permitting process. 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.
Coal mining regulatory activities include the handling of materials such as overburden, topsoil and revegetation of the mine site. Coal processing areas, stockpiles of saleable product and the physical location 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 areas not under permit, and includes blasting, hydrologic monitoring of both surface and groundwater and proving the soil productivity of the reclaimed land.
Abandoned Mine Lands
Staff within the department's Abandoned Mine Land unit utilize 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 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.