REGULATING THE UTAH HARDROCK MINING INDUSTRY - RESOURCE AND RECLAMATION MANAGEMENT IN A CHALLENGING REGULATORY FRAMEWORKUTAH DIVISION OF OIL, GAS AND MINING
The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining is organized into 4 separate programs. The oil and gas regulatory program is responsible for issuing well drilling permits and ensuring that wells are properly plugged after their useful life has ended and bonded for in the event of operator bankruptcy. The coal regulatory program enforces the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act which ensures the successful reclamation of coal mining operations. The Minerals regulatory program ensures that all non-coal mining operations in the State of Utah are bonded for and successfully reclaimed. The fourth program and the only non-regulatory program within the Division is the Abandoned Mines Program. This program ensures that the over 600 pre-law mining operations in Utah are reclaimed properly and public safety hazards are mitigated.
The focus of this discussion is the Minerals regulatory program which works to bring all of Utah’s hard rock mining operations into compliance with the Act. These types of operations include metals mining, sand, gravel and aggregate mining, phosphates, frac sands and many other types of minerals. Characterization of resources such as groundwater, vegetation, wildlife, soils, will be discussed and will be shown to be critical in the pre-planning stages of mine design. In some cases, resources are directly impacted instead of the preferred alternative of avoidance. Agencies from many disciples have to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes. A few case studies will be presented.