Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 12. Permits for Certain Mining Operations; Reclamation of Land

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 45.2-1200. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Disturbed land" means the area from which overburden has been removed in any mining operation, plus the area covered by the spoil and refuse, plus any area used in such mining operation, including land used for processing, stockpiling, or settling ponds.

"Division" means the Division of Mineral Mining.

"Mineral" means ore, rock, and any other solid homogeneous crystalline chemical element or compound that results from the inorganic processes of nature other than coal.

"Mining" means the breaking or disturbing of the surface soil or rock in order to facilitate or accomplish the extraction or removal of minerals or 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. "Mining" does not include (i) any aspect of deep mining that does not have a significant effect on the surface or (ii) excavation or grading when conducted solely in aid of onsite farming or construction. Nothing in this section applies to the mining of coal. "Mining" does not include, and this title, chapter, or section shall not be construed to apply to, the process of searching, prospecting, exploring, or investigating for minerals by drilling.

"Mining operation" means any area included in an approved plan of operation.

"Operator" means 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 that is engaged in mining.

"Orphaned lands" means lands disturbed by surface mining of minerals, other than coal operations, that were not required by law to be reclaimed or that have not been reclaimed.

"Overburden" means all of the earth and other materials that 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.

"Reclamation" means the restoration or conversion of disturbed land to a stable condition that minimizes or prevents adverse disruption and the injurious effects of such disruption and presents an opportunity for further productive use if such use is reasonable.

"Refuse" means all waste soil, rock, mineral tailings, slimes, and other material directly connected with the mine or with the cleaning and preparation of substances mined, including all waste material deposited in the permit area from other sources.

"Spoil" means any overburden or other material removed from its natural state in the process of mining.

1968, c. 734, § 45.1-180; 1972, c. 206; 1974, c. 312; 1977, c. 312; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1201. Construction of chapter.

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

1977, c. 312, § 45.1-180.2; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1202. Authority of Director; enforcement of chapter by injunction.

A. The Director may adopt regulations to effectuate the provisions and the policy of this chapter and may adopt definitions for use in interpreting this chapter.

B. The Director may administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter. 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. Supervise the administration and enforcement of this chapter and all regulations and orders adopted thereunder;

2. Issue orders to enforce the provisions of this chapter, all regulations adopted thereunder, and the terms and conditions of any permit;

3. Make investigations and inspections to ensure compliance with any provision of this chapter or any regulation or order adopted thereunder;

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

5. Receive any federal funds, state funds, or any other funds and 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 a violation of any provision of this chapter or any regulation or order adopted hereunder or to compel the performance of any act required by such provision, regulation, or order without regard to any adequate remedy that may exist at law, and such injunction shall be issued without bond. However, with regard to the suspension of mining operations, § 45.2-1225 shall control.

1977, c. 312, § 45.1-180.3; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1203. Exemption for restricted mining.

Any operator engaged in mining who disturbs less than one acre of land and removes less than 500 tons of minerals at any particular site is exempt from all mining permit fees, renewal fees, and bond requirements of this chapter if such person intending to engage in such restricted mining submits an application for a permit, a sketch of the mining site, and an operations plan to be adhered to in accordance with §§ 45.2-1205 and 45.2-1206. The Director shall approve the application if he determines that the issuance of the permit will not violate any provision of this chapter.

1977, c. 312, § 45.1-180.4; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.