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Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia
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Subject 391-3-3 SURFACE MINING

Rule 391-3-3-.01 Authority and Administration

(1) Authority. Rules and regulations regarding surface mining and reclamation of affected lands are adopted pursuant to the Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968, as amended.
(2) Definitions. All terms used in the rules and regulations shall be interpreted in accordance with the definitions as set forth in the Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968, as amended, unless otherwise defined in the rules and regulations:
(a) "Act" means the Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968, as amended;
(b) "Director" means the Director of the Division of Environmental Protection of the Department of Natural Resources, State of Georgia;
(c) "Division" means the Division of Environmental Protection of the Department of natural Resources, State of Georgia.
(3) Enforcement. The administration and enforcement of any rules and regulations shall be in accordance with the Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968, as amended, the Executive Reorganization Act of 1972, as amended, and the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act, as amended.
(4) Powers and Duties of the Director. Powers and duties vested in the Director pursuant to Act include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) To administer and enforce the provisions of the Act and all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder;
(b) To issue such orders as may be necessary to enforce compliance with the Act all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder;
(c) To examine and pass upon permit applications and Mining Land Use Plans;
(d) To revoke permits of mining operators who refuse to carry out their Mining Land Use Plans;
(e) To deny a new permit to a mining operator whose permit has been revoked, until the mining operator gives assurance satisfactory to the Director of his ability and intent to fully comply with the Act with respect to affected land under the revoked permit.
(f) To forfeit bonds or cash of mining operators who refuse to carry out their Mining Land User Plans;
(g) To carry out land use projects on lands where bonds or cash have been forfeited, using funds available for such purposes;
(h) To institute and prosecute all such court actions as may be necessary to obtain the enforcement of any order issued by the Director in carrying out the provisions of the Act;
(i) To seek civil penalties in accordance with the Act;
(j) To decline to assert jurisdiction under the Act over any class or category of mines when the effect of the operation of such mines is not sufficiently substantial to warrant the exercise of jurisdiction;
(k) To exercise all incidental powers necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act.

Rule 391-3-3-.02 Permits

(1) General Requirement. Prior to commencing any surface mining operation, a mining operator shall be required to obtain from the Director a permit to conduct such surface mining operation.
(2) Application for PermitThe application for a permit shall be made on forms supplied by the Director, and shall be signed by the applicant. The application shall contain the name of the Applicant; certification that the Mining Operator is the rightful owner or holds a valid lease or option to purchase or lease the affected lands which, at a minimum, extends two years beyond the final reclamation date shown in the Mining Land Use Plan; a certification that the information provided in or submitted by the mining operator as part of the Application and Mining Land Use Plan is true and correct, and the Mining Operator agrees to comply with provisions of the Mining Land Use Plan, provisions of the Act and Rules, and conditions of the permit; a statement granting to the Environmental Protection Division or any authorized representative of the Director the right of entry and travel upon affected lands; and such other information as is required by the Director. Such application shall be filed with the Director well in advance of the date on which the mining operator desires to commence mining, so that adequate time will be available to the Director to review the application and accompanying documents. Said application shall be accompanied by a Mining Land Use Plan, which shall be prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Act and these rules and regulations.
(3) Issuance of Permit. A permit will be issued by the Director on evidence satisfactory to the Director of compliance with the provisions of the Act and these rules and regulations. No such permit will be issued until a mining operator files with the Division the appropriate performance bond, government securities, irrevocable letter of credit, cash or any combination thereof, unless said mining operator has been exempted from this requirement by the Director in accordance with the Act and these rules and regulations. A permit, once issued, shall be valid from the date of issuance until the completion of mining, unless otherwise revoked pursuant to the Act and these rules and regulations. Such permit shall be conditioned upon the permittee's compliance with the approved Mining Land Use Plan.
(4) Revocation of Permit. If a mining operator fails to comply with the Mining Land Use Plan, the Division will notify said operator in writing of the specific items of noncompliance and request that corrections be made. If the mining operator thereafter fails to comply within a reasonable time, the Director may revoke said mining operator's permit in accordance with the Act, as amended. The decision to revoke a permit is left to the discretion of the Director and will be based on violation of the Act, Rules, permit conditions, or Mining Land Use Plan. Mining by a permitted operator on an unauthorized site (lands not permitted) while holding other valid permits shall constitute prima facie evidence of violation of an approved Mining Land Use Plan and all permits that an operator holds may be suspended or revoked.
(5) Transferability of Permit. A permit, once issued, is not transferable from one mining operator to another. Whenever the legal ownership of a mining operation changes, the new owner may continue such operation provided that, within 60 days of such change in ownership, the new operator files with the Director an approveable application, Mining Land Use Plan, and appropriate bonding. In such cases of change in ownership, the original owner shall be held responsible for lands affected by the operation unless written proof of the assumption of responsibility by the new owner, satisfactory to the Director, is filed with the Division.
(6) Exemption. Tunnels, shafts and dimension stone quarries are by law exempted from the provision of the Act.

Rule 391-3-3-.03 Bonding

(1) Upon approval by the Director of a Mining Land Use Plan or an amended Mining Land Use Plan submitted by the mining operator, the Division shall furnish approved surety bond forms to the mining operator, and advise said mining operator as to the amount of bond that will be required. A mining operator shall submit to the Director an acceptable performance bond, payable to the Governor of Georgia or his successor, within 60 days from the date of mail receipt or personal delivery to the operator such forms, unless otherwise exempted from the bonding requirement by the Director. Mining operators shall have the option of posting a surety bond, government securities, irrevocable letter of credit, cash or any combination thereof. If a cash bond is to be submitted, the mining operator shall submit a cashier's check or money order payable to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. A mining operator submitting government securities shall purchase securities having a current market value equal to the full amount of the required bond. Additionally, government securities that contain interest coupons shall have all outstanding coupons attached thereto.
(2) Bond requirements will be fixed in an amount of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500 per acre or fraction thereof of the area affected land. When determining the amount of bond required, the Director will consider the character and nature of the land reclamation requirements as approved in the operator's Mining Land Use Plan or amended Mining Land Use Plan and the degree to which the mining operator has complied with the provisions of any existing or past approved Mining Land Use Plan.
(3) Exemption from the Bonding Requirement. Any mining operator who desires an exemption from the bonding requirements of this section shall make a written request for such an exemption from the Director. The Director, in determining whether such a request should be granted, will consider (1) the financial responsibility of the mining operator; (2) the degree to which the mining operator has complied with the provision of any existing or past approved Mining Land Use Plan; and (3) such other matters as the Director may deem appropriate and relevant. In considering the financial responsibility of the mining operator, the Director may require a mining operator to submit the latest available financial statement.
(4) The bond, government securities, irrevocable letter of credit, or cash shall be held until the affected lands or any portion thereof are satisfactorily reclaimed. The Division shall inspect and evaluate affected lands to determine if the provisions of the Act, the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, and the operator's approved Mining Land Use Plan have been properly fulfilled. The operator shall notify the Division by filing a final reclamation report when the provisions of his Mining Land Use Plan have been fulfilled. Upon receipt of the operator's final reclamation report advising that the provisions of the Mining Land Use Plan have been fulfilled, the Division will have the site(s) covered by said Plan inspected for compliance. Within 60 days from the date of such inspection, the Division will notify the mining operator in writing as to whether said operator has fulfilled the reclamation responsibility under his Plan. If said reclamation responsibility has been fulfilled, a mining operator who has not been granted an exemption from the bonding requirement will have his bonding obligation terminated.
(5) Any mining operator who has been granted an exemption from the bonding requirement and who subsequently violates any provision of the Act or these rules and regulations, or who defaults on his obligations under any Mining Land Use Plan, may be required by the Director to post a bond.

Rule 391-3-3-.04 Substitution of Previously Mined Site

An operator may desire to substitute and reclaim an area mined in the past for lands currently being mined. Such substitution may be made on an acre for acre basis, and an operator's request for same shall be prepared as to form and content in a manner acceptable to the Division. Reclamation shall be initiated on substituted acres the first growing season following the commencement of mining on the land for which substitution is being made and must be completed no later than the three years from that date, unless a period of other duration is approved by the Division as a part of the mining operator's approved Mining Land Use Plan.

Rule 391-3-3-.05 Mining Land Use Plan

(1) Plan Submittal. Each surface mining operator, prior to being issued a permit to engage in surface mining, shall submit a Mining Land Use Plan that is acceptable to the Division and which meets the requirements of the Act and Rules, including provisions for protection of the environment and resources of the State and reclamation of affected lands in a reasonable period of time. Operators will submit an original and two (2) copies of an application and Mining Land Use Plan on forms provided by the Division, along with all engineering drawings, specifications, maps or other attachments as necessary.
(2) Preparation of Plan. Mining Land Use Plans will be prepared as to form and content in a manner acceptable to the Division and will comply with the rules and regulations. The plan will contain a specific plan of action, being based on sound engineering and conservation principles, for accomplishing the operator's reclamation objective and for protection of adjacent watersheds from effects of erosion and siltation. The Mining Land Use Plan shall be consistent with land use in the area of the mine. The Mining Land Use Plan shall include, but not be limited to, a description of the company; the minerals or materials to be mined; mining methods; lands and community to be affected; reclamation objective; estimated schedule of mining advancement; schedule of reclamation, including time to accomplish reclamation; affected acreage; natural drainage and water disposal; provisions for erosion and siltation control, including adequate measures to control erosion on the periphery of affected land where mining ceases or becomes inactive; protection of contiguous natural and other resources, including properties on the National Register of Historic Places; topsoil use; overburden (spoil) or refuse disposal placement or use; backfilling; highwall reduction, grading and sloping; lake development; site cleanup; and revegetation of reclaimed lands.
(3) National Register of Historic Places. Adverse effects on historic places include, but are not limited to, the following: physical destruction, damage or alteration of all or part of the property; isolation of the property from or alteration of the character of the property's setting when that character contributes to the property's qualification for the National Register; introduction of visual, audible or atmospheric elements that are out of character with the property or alter its setting.
(4) Amended Mining Land Use Plan. If it is determined to be desirable to vary from an approved Mining Land Use Plan, any changes in the Plan must be submitted in writing to the Division for approval as an amendment to the original Plan prior to changing or varying from such Plan. Amended Plans submitted by the operator will be complete in all details necessary to correctly show the operator's new plan of action and will show by map all lands to be affected and reclaimed.
(5) Disapproval of Plan. Mining Land Use Plans submitted by mining operators that are not prepared in a manner acceptable to the Division and that do not contain the required supporting documents and maps will be disapproved. In the event an operation has submitted a Mining Land Use Plan for approval that is not acceptable to the Division, the Plan shall be disapproved. The operator will be advised of the various elements of the Plan that are not acceptable, and the operator's disapproved Plan will be returned to the operator for revision and resubmission. It is the operator's responsibility to provide a properly prepared, acceptable and sufficient Mining Land Use Plan that will provide for the protection of the environment in the development and operation of the site and reclamation of mined lands.

Rule 391-3-3-.06 Final Acceptable Reclamation

Following the removal or disposal of all structures, equipment, stockpiles, mining refuse and all other materials associated with surface mining, the affected land will be reclaimed in accordance with the provision of the mining operator's approved Mining Land Use Plan. All lands, except those specifically exempted by the Division in the operator's approved Mining Land Use Plan, will have a neat, clean appearance and contain a high quality, permanent vegetative cover.

Rule 391-3-3-.07 Maps and Aerial Photographs

(1) Location Map. The operator will include as a part of his Mining Land Use Plan an accurate location map of affected lands.
(2) Land Use Map. The operator will prepare and submit as a part of his Mining Land Use Plan a detailed Land Use Map, prepared in a manner acceptable to the Division. Said Map shall include, but not be limited to, details of anticipated mining advancement and provision for drainage and erosion control measures.
(3) Aerial Photographs. Aerial photographs or reproductions thereof that accurately portray affected lands to be mined may be submitted by the operator in lieu of the required maps provided the operator has plotted and correctly identified all land use data on the photograph. Aerial photographs or reproductions thereof, which have a scale of less than 330 feet per inch or more that 660 feet per inch (unless a scale of another size is approved by the Division) and which are not of adequate photo interpretation quality are unacceptable. Operators will submit the most recent available photograph that correctly shows the various physical features of lands being affected.

Rule 391-3-3-.08 Protection of the Public Interest

The mining operator's plan shall incorporate sound engineering and conservation measures for protecting the health and welfare of the people of this State from adverse effects of surface mining. Operators will be required to grade all peaks, ridges, and valleys resulting from surface mining, and to backfill all pits and trenches resulting from same in a manner to minimize any hazardous effects of mining adjacent to any State or county-maintained public road. If the original ground elevation of the area mined was at or below the road elevation, operators will be required to grade to the original elevation and plane, a strip of land of a reasonable width, lying adjacent and parallel to the public road involved. If the original ground elevation of the area mined was above the road elevation and mining caused the resulting elevation to be below the road elevation, operators will be required to grade to at least the same elevation and plane as the road a strip of land of a reasonable width, lying adjacent and parallel to the public road involved.

Rule 391-3-3-.09 Protection of the Environment and Contiguous Natural and Other Resources

Whenever a mining site lies contiguous to any waters of the State or whenever, in the judgement of the Division, proposed mining at such site will adversely affect any portion of the watershed of the State, an operator will be required to follow sound engineering and conservation measures to provide protective barriers, such as dams, berms, silt ponds, or other similar structures, between the lands to be affected and waters or watersheds involved. All structures are to be approved by the Division as a part of the operator's Mining Land Use Plan and are to be substantial for the protection of contiguous natural resources of the State. All structures referred to above are to be constructed a reasonable distance from waters of the State, or that portion of a watershed of the State adversely affected, as determined by the Division. Before natural creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water may be altered in course or relocated, the plan for such alteration or relocation must be approved by the Division as part of the operator's approved Mining Land Use Plan. Where a mining site is to be located on lands or adjacent to lands containing natural or other resources which may be adversely affected by the mining operation, the mining operator shall include as an attachment to the Mining Land Use Plan, a plan to alleviate and/or mitigate adverse effects of such impacts.

Rule 391-3-3-.10 Confidentiality of Information

Any information relating to secret mining methods obtained by the Division or its employees while carrying out the provision of the Act or these rules and regulations shall, at the request of the mining operator, be kept confidential.

Rule 391-3-3-.11 Repealed