(1) Prior to any surface disturbance by the mining operation, and after the removal of vegetation that would interfere with soil removal and use, all soil suitable for reclamation use must be removed. Exceptions may be granted if the operator demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that a site-specific disturbance would be insignificant and that soil loss, degradation, and contamination would be minimized.
(2) The operator shall use a multiple-lift soil handling method consisting of the separate handling of surface soil (A, E, and possibly upper B or C horizons) and subsurface soil (underlying B and C horizons) during salvage, stockpiling, and redistribution, unless, for any particular soil component, the operator affirmatively demonstrates, and the department finds, that multiple lifts are not necessary to achieve reclamation consistent with the Act, rules and reclamation plan.
(3) Undisturbed soils must be protected to the extent possible from contamination and degradation and soil salvage operations must be conducted in a manner and at a time that minimizes erosion, contamination, degradation, compaction, and deterioration of the biological properties of the soil.
(4) Soil removal is not required for minor disturbances which occur at the site of small structures such as power poles, signs or fences or where operations will not destroy vegetation and cause erosion.