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Regulatory Handbook -> Land Resource Permits -> Surface Mining Reclamation Permit

Surface Mining Reclamation Permit

What is the Purpose of this Permit?
A Surface Mine Reclamation Permit is required for each mine that: (1) results in more than 3 acres of mine-related disturbance, or (2) has a high-wall that is both higher than 30 feet and steeper than 45 degrees. To ensure high quality reclamation after mining, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires a reclamation plan that specifies the operators' methods for achieving the following reclamation goals:
  • Segmental reclamation where possible (reclaiming portions of the mine site as mining of those portions is completed).
  • Preservation of subsoil and topsoil.
  • Slope restoration so mined faces are stable and are sinuous, rather than linear, so that features appear natural rather than manmade.
  • Final topography with rolling mounds and hills, sinuous contours, chutes, buttresses and spurs that blend with adjacent topography.
  • Effective re-vegetation with multi-species ground cover, trees and shrubs.
  • Water and erosion control as it pertains to reclamation.
Local governments must formally approve mine siting and/or the subsequent use of the mine site before a reclamation permit can be issued. Zoning and mine operations like fencing, excavation, blasting, operational water and erosion control, noise and dust emission control, public safety, mineral processing, and batching, are primarily regulated by various jurisdictions other than DNR. A bond for reclamation is required before the reclamation permit can be issued and before mining related disturbance can exceed the thresholds of a surface mine as set forth in RCW 78.44.031(17)(a).
Who Issues this Permit?
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
What Activities Require this Permit?
Surface mining. A reclamation permit is required by DNR for each surface mine that:
  1. Results in more than 3 acres of disturbed ground, or
  2. Has a high-wall that is both higher than 30 feet and steeper than 45 degrees, or more than one acre of disturbance in an eight acre area that results from mineral prospecting or exploration activities.
How Much Will this Permit Cost?
A new or expanded permit is charged $2,500 and a revised permit is charged a $1000 application fee. An annual fee of either $1,250, $2,500, or $3,500, based on a three tiered scale system tied to the annual production tonnage mined, is charged to permit holders. Permit holders are required to post an adequate performance security prior to issuance of a permit for the estimated cost to reclaim the upcoming 36 months of planned mining disturbance and any previously disturbed areas that have not been reclaimed. DNR's general performance security estimate rate is set at $19,500 for the initial 3 acres of disturbance and $4,000 an acre for every additional acre of mining disturbance.
Where Can I Get the Application for this Permit?
The application which is called 'Form SM-8A: Application for Surface Mining Reclamation Permit' is online and can be accessed at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/geology/energy-mining-and-minerals/rules-regulations-and-forms.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
A complete permit application submittal includes:
  • A written narrative describing the proposed mining and reclamation scheme.
  • Form SM-8A: Application for Surface Mining Reclamation Permit.
  • Application Fee.
  • Form SM-6: County or Municipality Approval for Surface Mining.
  • Performance Security Forms.
  • State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Forms.
  • Maps and at least two cross sections of the surface mine.
  • Other supporting data and documents regarding the surface mine as reasonably required by DNR.
Is the Decision on my Permit Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
Issues related to other federal, state, and local permits as well as immitigable adverse environmental factors could affect whether DNR can issue a reclamation permit.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
The estimates of application completion and permit decision (processing) times shall be based upon actual data for calendar year 2015 and will be available by March 1, 2016.
Where do I Submit my Application?
Department of Natural Resources
Geology and Earth Resources Division
1111 Washington Street SE
PO Box 47007
Olympia, WA 98504-7007
How Long is my Permit Valid?
The reclamation permit shall be granted for the period required to deplete essentially all minerals identified in the reclamation permit on the land covered by the reclamation plan. The reclamation permit shall be valid until the reclamation is complete unless the permit is canceled by DNR.
What is the Appeal Process for the Permit?
If the department refuses to approve a complete reclamation plan within 120 days, the miner or permit holder may appeal this determination to the Pollutions Control Hearings Board.
Notes / Comments:
A regulatory guide specific to surface mining, titled "Surface Mining in Washington: Regulatory Responsibilities of Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies" is available from DNR, Division of Geology and Earth Resources and regional offices. Additional literature and guides to reclamation are also available.
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2018-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 71
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 1091

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 457
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 1646

(Summary results based on 25 submittals in 2019)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Helpdesk phone: (360) 902-1450
Subject matter expert phone: (360) 902-1465
Subject matter expert email: tara.salzer@dnr.wa.gov
Statewide Contact:
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Geology and Earth Resources Division
Headquarters
1111 Washington Street SE
PO Box 47007
Olympia, WA 98504-7007
Telephone: (360) 902-1450
Fax: (360) 902-1785
Website:
* Permit information last updated 8/22/2016
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