Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.1. Mines and Mining
Chapter 16. Permits for Certain Mining Operations; Reclamation of Land

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 45.1-180. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section except where the context clearly requires a different meaning:

(a) Mining. — Means the breaking or disturbing of the surface soil or rock in order to facilitate or accomplish the extraction or removal of minerals; any activity constituting all or part of a process for the extraction or removal of minerals so as to make them suitable for commercial, industrial, or construction use; but shall not include those aspects of deep mining not having significant effect on the surface, and shall not include excavation or grading when conducted solely in aid of on-site farming or construction. Nothing herein shall apply to mining of coal. This definition shall not include, nor shall this title, chapter, or section be construed to apply to the process of searching, prospecting, exploring or investigating for minerals by drilling.

(b) Disturbed land. — The areas from which overburden has been removed in any mining operation, plus the area covered by the spoil and refuse, plus any areas used in such mining operation including land used for processing, stockpiling, and settling ponds.

(c) Overburden. — All of the earth and other material which lie above a natural deposit of minerals, ores, rock or other solid matter and also other materials after removal from their natural deposit in the process of mining.

(d) Spoil. — Any overburden or other material removed from its natural state in the process of mining.

(e) Operator. — Any individual, corporation or corporation officer, firm, joint venture, partnership, business trust, association, or any other group or combination acting as a unit, or any legal entity which is engaged in mining.

(f) through (i) [Repealed.]

(j) Mining operation. — Any area included in an approved plan of operation.

(k) Reclamation. — The restoration or conversion of disturbed land to a stable condition which minimizes or prevents adverse disruption and the injurious effects thereof and presents an opportunity for further productive use if such use is reasonable.

(l) Mineral. — Ore, rock, and any other solid homogeneous crystalline chemical element or compound that results from the inorganic processes of nature other than coal.

(m) Division. — The Division of Mined Land Reclamation.

(n) Refuse. — All waste soil, rock, mineral tailings, slimes and other material directly connected with the mine, cleaning and preparation of substances mined including all waste material deposited in the permit area from other sources.

1968, c. 734; 1972, c. 206; 1974, c. 312; 1977, c. 312; 1984, c. 590.

§ 45.1-180.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1974, c. 96.

§ 45.1-180.2. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) Legislative findings; declaration of policy.

A. The General Assembly finds that the mining of minerals within the Commonwealth is an activity that makes a contribution to the standard of living of the citizens of the Commonwealth; and that it is in the public interest to insure the availability and orderly development of mineral resources now and in the future. Uncontrolled mining of such minerals and unreclaimed land can adversely affect the environment through the destruction of vegetative cover, the disruption of drainage patterns, the increased siltation and sedimentation of streams as well as other forms of pollution, and the temporary and, in some circumstances, permanent destruction of scenic beauty and wildlife habitats. The General Assembly further finds that it is often not practicable to extract minerals without disturbing the surface of the earth and producing waste materials, and that the very character of certain surface mining operations precludes complete restoration of the land to its original contour; but that it is essential to conduct mining in such a way as to minimize its effects on the environment.

B. The General Assembly recognizes that there are wide variations in the circumstances and conditions surrounding and arising out of the mining of minerals and that rehabilitation and conservation of land affected by mining of minerals will be assured only through proper planning, proper use of appropriate methods of mining, consideration of the impact of mining upon the environment as well as the land use of surrounding areas, and through the incorporation and use of control techniques and reclamation actions as an integral and simultaneous part of the mining of minerals.

C. The General Assembly declares that it is in the public interest and shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to require and encourage the proper control of mining of minerals so as to protect the public health, safety and welfare consistent with the protection of physical property and with maximum employment and the economic well-being of the Commonwealth through good industry and sound conservation practices, and to require and encourage thorough operations and reclamation planning, consideration of the surrounding environment, and incorporation of control techniques and reclamation actions in mining operations insofar as economically and physically practicable to assure such proper control of mining. To these ends, the Director is mandated to enforce this chapter and to adopt whatever regulations are found necessary to accomplish the provisions of this chapter.

D. The General Assembly by this chapter intends to exercise the police power of this Commonwealth in a coordinated statewide program to aid in the protection of wildlife, in restoring these lands to productive purposes and to control present and future problems associated with mining resources and the reclamation of disturbed lands to the end that mining activities shall be regulated in a manner that will effectuate the purpose of this chapter.

E. Nothing in this chapter is intended, nor shall be construed, to limit, impair, abridge, create, enlarge or otherwise affect, substantively or procedurally, the right or rights of any person who is a party to any dispute involving property rights, or the right of any person to damages or other relief on account of injury to persons or property due to mining activities regulated by this chapter and to maintain any action or other appropriate procedure therefor; nor to affect the powers of the Commonwealth to initiate, prosecute and maintain actions to abate public nuisances.

1977, c. 312; 1984, c. 590.

§ 45.1-180.3. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) Authority of Director; enforcement of chapter by injunction.

A. The authority to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the provisions and the policy of this chapter and the authority to adopt definitions for use in interpreting this chapter are hereby vested in the Director.

B. The authority to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter is hereby vested in the Director. In administering and enforcing the provisions of this chapter pursuant to the findings and legislative policy adopted by the General Assembly, the Director shall exercise the following powers in addition to any other powers conferred upon him by law:

1. To supervise the administration and enforcement of this chapter and all rules and regulations and orders promulgated thereunder;

2. To issue orders to enforce the provisions of this chapter, all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, and the terms and conditions of any permit;

3. To make investigations and inspections to insure compliance with any provision of this chapter or any rules, regulations, or orders promulgated thereunder;

4. To encourage and conduct investigations, research, experiments and demonstrations, and to collect and disseminate information relating to surface mining and reclamation of lands and waters affected by surface mining;

5. To receive any federal funds, state funds or any other funds and to enter into any contracts, for which funds are available, to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

C. In addition to any administrative remedy granted herein, the Director may petition any court of competent jurisdiction for an injunction against any violation of the provisions of this chapter, and the rules, regulations and orders promulgated hereunder or to compel the performance of acts required thereby without regard to any adequate remedy which may exist at law, such injunction to be issued without bond. However, with regard to the suspension of mining operations, § 45.1-193.1 shall control.

1977, c. 312; 1984, c. 590.

§ 45.1-180.4. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) Exemption for restricted mining.

Any operator engaging in mining and disturbing less than one acre of land and removing less than 500 tons of minerals at any particular site, is exempt from all mining permit fees and renewal fees and bond requirements of this chapter; provided, however, each person intending to engage in such restricted mining shall submit an application for a permit, a sketch of the mining site and an operations plan, which shall be adhered to in accordance with §§ 45.1-181 and 45.1-182.1. The Director shall approve the application if he determines that the issuance of the permit shall not violate the provisions of this chapter.

1977, c. 312.