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Need for a Mined Land Reclamation Permit

trucks on gravel road

What is a "Mine"?

Under the Mined Land Reclamation Law, a "Mine" means any excavation from which a mineral is to be produced for sale or exchange, or for commercial, industrial, or municipal use. A "Mine" includes all haulageways and all equipment above, on or below the surface of the ground used in connection with the excavation, as well as all lands included in the life of the mine as presented to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

What Activities Constitute "Mining"?

"Mining" means the extraction of overburden and minerals from the earth; the preparation and processing of minerals, including any activities or processes used for the extraction or removal of minerals from their original location and the preparation such as washing, cleaning, crushing, stockpiling or other processing at the mine location that makes a mineral suitable for commercial, industrial, or construction use.

Regulated Activities

A Mined-Land Reclamation permit is required for all excavations and related activities defined as mining, from which

  • More than 1,000 tons or 750 cubic yards, whichever is less, of a mineral(s) is (are) removed, or proposed to be removed, from the earth during twelve successive calendar months. This is approximately equal to 40-50 tandem-axle (10-wheeler) dump truck loads. Or
  • More than 100 cubic yards or more of a mineral(s) is (are) removed in or adjacent to any body of water not subject to NYSDEC permitting authority for their disturbance, "unprotected waters", under Protection Waters legislation (Article 15 of the Environmental Conservation Law) or the Public Lands Law.

Mineral is defined as any naturally formed, usually inorganic, solid material located on or below the surface of the earth including but not limited to architectural stone, gem stones, limestone, granite, ore, bluestone, gravel and sand. Peat and topsoil are also considered to be minerals.

Do not start a project before obtaining a permit!

You must obtain all necessary permits before commencing work on a project that requires any DEC permit. Persons commencing work on such a project before obtaining the required permits, and any contractors engaged in such work, are subject to enforcement action by the DEC. Such action may include any or all of the following:

  1. Civil or criminal court action, or both,
  2. Fines,
  3. An order to remove structures or materials or perform other remedial action, including the reclamation of all affected lands.

Exempt Activities

Certain activities are exempt from the Mined-Land Reclamation Law. Contact The Regional Mined Land Reclamation Specialist to determine whether a mining permit is required. The most common of these exempt activities include:

  • Mining operations from which fewer than 1,000 tons or 750 cubic yards, whichever is less, of a mineral are removed for sale, exchange, or other use during a twelve month period; Or the excavation of less than 100 cubic yards of minerals in or adjacent to any body of water not subject to ECL, Article 15.
  • Excavation or grading operations which are conducted solely in aid of on-site construction or farming, such as excavation for a basement or farm drainage improvements. Operations fall in this exempt category when the operator presents objective evidence to the department which shows that construction or farming will occur at the site concurrently with excavation and grading or immediately after these operations are finished. The Department may consider an approved building permit and site plan or a farm management plan prepared by the Soil Conservation Service as acceptable objective evidence.

Contact the DEC Mined Land Reclamation Specialist located in the regional office covering the location of your proposed excavation for a determination on the applicability of the Mined Land Reclamation Law.

Be aware that certain activities not regulated under the Mined-Land Reclamation Law may require permits under other regulatory programs.

These activities may include:

  • Extraction of substances which exist naturally in a fluid state, such as oil and gas (covered by the Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining permit program);
  • Solution mining consisting of the injection of a liquid into a solid formation to dissolve the mineral for subsequent removal by pumping (also covered by the Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining permit program);
  • Dredging operations conducted in waters and wetlands protected under the provisions of the ECL, or on submerged State lands under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services (covered by the Protection of Waters Program, the Tidal Wetlands and Freshwater Wetlands Programs, and the Public Land Law).