17.24.150 ABANDONMENT OR COMPLETION OF OPERATION
(1) For the purposes of administering the Act the department will presume that an operation is abandoned or completed (and thus subject to the reclamation time schedule outlined in 82-4-336 , MCA) as soon as ore ceases to be extracted for future use or processing. Should the operator wish to rebut said assumption, the operator must provide evidence satisfactory to the department that the operations have not in fact been abandoned or completed.
(2) Documentation of any of the following situations will be adequate evidence of intent not to abandon operations:
(a) the mine or mill work force is on strike while negotiating a new contract;
(b) the mine or mill is shut down because of some failure of the transportation network in moving ore or processed material;
(c) the mine or mill is shut down because of a natural catastrophe and plans to resume operations are being formulated;
(d) the mine or mill is seasonally shut down due to predictable annual variance in the mined product's market or because of inclement weather or seasonal inaccessibility;
(e) the mine or mill is shut down for maintenance or the construction of new facilities;
(f) the mine or mill is forced to temporarily shut down because of violation of other state or federal laws and efforts are being made to remedy the cause of the violation.
(3) At the discretion of the department, the following evidence and any other relevant evidence may be satisfactory to show intent to resume operations:
(a) exhibition of drill core and accompanying assay reports to show that ore minerals still remain in the mine and that they are present in veins or accumulations of sufficient size, grade and accessibility to warrant continued development. Geological, geochemical or geophysical indications of valuable mineralization sufficient to warrant further development or mining will also be considered by the department;
(b) continued employment of a maintenance crew to dewater the mine or replace timbers, etc.;
(c) data recording present and predicted commodity prices, labor and transportation costs, etc., or any other evidence which may show that mining may soon resume on a profitable basis. Board comment: It is recognized that "abandonment or completion of mining" under the operating permit (see 82-4-336 , MCA) is an action commonly predicated upon complex and changing economic circumstances; that cessation of mining need not mean abandonment or completion; and that short of obtaining an operator's records and examining the mine development drill core, the department may be unable to determine the operator's true intent.
History: 82-4-321, MCA; IMP, 82-4-336, MCA; Eff. 12/31/72; TRANS, from DSL, 1996 MAR p. 2852; AMD, 2000 MAR p. 473, Eff. 2/11/00.