(1) The Act and this subchapter provide that no person may engage in activities regulated under the Act without first obtaining the appropriate exploration license or operating permit from the department, or filing a valid small miner exclusion to the requirement of obtaining an operating permit. Activities regulated under the Act include:
(a) exploration for, or mining of minerals on or below the surface of the earth;
(b) engaging in ore processing;
(c) reprocessing of mine waste rock or tailings;
(d) constructing or operating a hard rock mill;
(e) using cyanide or other metal leaching solvents or ore-processing reagents; and
(f) disturbing land in anticipation of any of these activities.
(2) Prior to receipt of an exploration license or operating permit the applicant, other than a public or governmental agency, shall deposit with the department a reclamation performance bond in a form and amount as determined by the department in accordance with 82-4-338 , MCA. The license or permit may be issued following receipt and acceptance of the reclamation performance bond, and, at such time, operations may commence.
(3) Section 82-4-390, MCA, provides that open pit mining for gold or silver using heap leaching or vat leaching with cyanide ore-processing reagents is prohibited, except that a mine in operation on November 3, 1998, may continue operating under its existing operating permit or any amended permit that is necessary for continued operation of a mine.
(4) The mining of certain substances is excluded from the Act and this subchapter. See definition of "mineral" in 82-4-303, MCA.
(5) A small miner who signs an agreement described in 82-4-305, MCA, and does not violate the Act and this subchapter, is excluded from certain requirements of the Act as they relate to mining, except as noted in 82-4-305 , MCA. See definition of "small miner" in 82-4-303, MCA. All exploration operations, regardless of size, must comply with the requirements of 82-4-331 and 82-4-332, MCA, and ARM 17.24.103 through 17.24.108. See definitions of "exploration" in ARM 17.24.102 and "mining" in 82-4-303, MCA.
(6) The Act and this subchapter do not apply to a person engaging in a mining activity described in 82-4-310(1) and (2), MCA. The Act and this subchapter apply to a person who, on land owned or controlled by that person, is allowing other persons to engage in mining activities whose activities cumulatively exceed the activity described in 82-4-310(1), MCA.
(7) Subject to the exclusions set forth in the Act and pursuant to the definitions of "surface mining", "mining", "exploration" and "mineral" in the Act, placer or dredge mining, and rock quarrying are included in the application of the Act.
(8) As used in this subchapter, the term "operator" includes a licensee, a permittee, and a small miner. The Act covers the operator's employees and agents as well as subcontractors and the subcontractor's employees and agents. The operator is liable for violations of the Act by its employees, agents and subcontractors (drilling, construction, maintenance or otherwise) and the subcontractor's employees and agents when they are working on the project for which the permit or license was issued or which is subject to an exclusion.
(9) Common use pits and quarries on federal land which are available to the general public for the exclusive or nonexclusive procurement of rock or stone and which are administered by the responsible federal agency under appropriate regulations are not subject to these rules, pursuant to 82-4-309, MCA.