(1) An application for a permit by a non-government operator must be accompanied by a bond or other security acceptable to the department under 82-4-433, MCA, and this subchapter.
(2) The department may adjust the amount of the bond or other security levels:
(a) based on information available to the department; and
(b) yearly when necessary to secure the department's estimate of costs to reclaim the affected land. Should the department determine that additional bond or other security is required, the operator shall submit a bond or security in the increased amount within 30 days of notification by the department.
(3) The operator shall immediately notify the department if the bond or other security is canceled or becomes ineffective. If the bond or other security is canceled or becomes ineffective, the operator shall reinstate or replace the canceled or ineffective bond or security with another bond or security acceptable to the department under 82-4-433, MCA, and this subchapter, within 30 days of notification by the department that the canceled or ineffective bond or other security must be replaced. In the event that the operator fails to reinstate or replace such bond or other security within the time provided in this rule, the department may suspend any permit secured by the canceled or ineffective bond or other security in accordance with 82-4-442, MCA. The operator shall immediately cease opencut operations, except reclamation activities, on lands covered by a suspended permit.
(4) An operator may apply for release of the bond in phases as follows:
(a) upon completion of phase I reclamation, which includes completion of all the requirements in ARM 17.24.219(1), except the requirements of ARM 17.24.219(1)(h)(ii)(K), (L), and (M). Any phase I reclamation bond or security release must leave sufficient bond or security to secure the estimated cost of completion of phase II reclamation;
(b) upon completion of phase II reclamation, which includes completion of all the requirements of ARM 17.24.219(1).
(5) An application for phase I or phase II bond release or release of other security must be submitted on forms provided by the department, and must include:
(a) a site map that shows:
(i) the existing permit area and release request area;
(ii) the landowner material stockpile area and remaining soil stockpile, if applicable;
(iii) roads; and
(iv) other pertinent mapping items as required by ARM 17.24.221(5);
(b) at least four photographs taken from the north, south, west, and east corners of the release request area; and
(c) for applications for release of bond amounts for phase II reclamation, at least three photographs taken at three different locations in the permit area showing typical vegetation within an area approximately five feet wide and including an object to define scale.
(6) The department may release a portion of the bond or security when the operator demonstrates completion of a reclamation phase, as defined in (4), for a discrete portion of the permit area if:
(a) the remaining reclamation can be accomplished without disturbance of completed reclamation; and
(b) the remaining amount of bond or security is sufficient to cover estimated cost to complete reclamation of the affected land.
(7) Release of a portion of the bond or security after completion of phase I reclamation does not relieve the operator from responsibility for any reclamation or any increased costs of reclamation necessary to comply with the Act, this subchapter, and the permit until phase II bond release.
(8) State and federal agencies and counties, cities, and towns are not required to post a bond or security. These government operators may request release from responsibility for reclamation in the same manner as nongovernmental operators request bond or security release in accordance with this rule, including release of a portion of the permitted area, except that government operators may not request release of responsibility for phase I reclamation.