(1) The department shall prepare written findings approving or denying an application filed pursuant to ARM 17.24.401(1) in whole or in part no later than 45 days from the date of the acceptability determination except as provided by 75-1-208 (4) (b) , MCA.
(2) Whenever the department has determined that it must prepare an environmental impact statement prior to a permit decision, the department shall complete the environmental impact statement in accordance with 82-4-231 , MCA.
(3) Whenever an informal conference has been held, the department shall give its written findings and notice of decision to the applicant and to each party to the conference, approving, modifying or denying the application in whole, or in part, and stating the specific reasons therefor in the decision.
(4) Whenever no informal conference has been held, the department shall give its written findings and notice of decision to the applicant, approving, modifying or denying the application in whole, or in part, and stating the specific reasons in the decision.
(5) Simultaneously with distribution of the written findings and notice of decision under (3) and (4) , the department shall give a copy of its findings and notice of decision to each person or government official who filed a written objection or comment with respect to the application.
(6) The department may not approve an application submitted pursuant to ARM 17.24.401(1) unless the application affirmatively demonstrates and the department's written findings confirm, on the basis of information set forth in the application or information otherwise available that is compiled by the department, that:
(a) the application is complete and accurate, that the applicant has complied with the Act and rules, and that the applicant has demonstrated reclamation can be accomplished;
(b) the permit area is not within an area being considered for or has not been designated as unsuitable for mining;
(c) the hydrologic consequences and cumulative hydrologic impacts will not result in material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area;
(d) the applicant has paid all reclamation fees from previous and existing operations nationwide;
(e) the operation would not affect the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or result in destruction or adverse modifications of their critical habitats;
(f) the applicant has complied with applicable federal and state cultural resource requirements, including ARM 17.24.318, 17.24.1131 and 17.24.1137;
(g) the applicant has applied for any required air quality and water quality permits;
(h) approval of the application is not prohibited pursuant to 82-4-227 (11) , MCA, or that, if the applicant has existing violations, the applicant has filed and is presently pursuing, in good faith, a direct administrative or judicial appeal to contest the validity of the violation;
(i) approval of the application is not prohibited pursuant to 82-4-227 (12) , MCA;
(j) if an alternative postmining land use is proposed, the requirements of ARM 17.24.821 and 17.24.823 have been met;
(k) for mining operations where the private mineral estate to be mined has been severed from the private surface estate, the applicant has submitted the documentation required under ARM 17.24.303;
(l) the applicant proposes to use existing structures in compliance with ARM 17.24.1302; and
(m) if the application is for a remining operation, the permit area is a "previously mined area."
(7) (a) If the department decides to approve the application, it shall:
(i) require the applicant to date, correct, or indicate that no change has occurred in the information submitted pursuant to ARM 17.24.303(1) (a) through (h) and (k) through (m) ;
(ii) reconsider the decision to approve the application based on the compliance review required by ARM 17.24.404 and 82-4-227 (11) , MCA, in light of any new information submitted pursuant to (i) ; and
(iii) if, after reconsideration pursuant to (ii) , the department determines that permit issuance is not prohibited, require that the applicant file the required performance bond or provide other equivalent guarantee.
(b) Upon submission of bond or guarantee, the department shall grant the permit, revision, or amendment.