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Mining & Reclamation

COVID-19 Update

Essential Functions of the Division of Mineral Resources and Entities Regulated Under ECL Article 23

All essential businesses and projects referenced below are generally deemed essential as per Empire State Development (ESD) guidance and may continue operation while Executive Order (EO) 202 is in effect. The essential activities described here involve field and project work that cannot be accomplished by working remotely and are described below to ensure that they can proceed in a manner consistent with State directives. Individual projects must fit the descriptions of essential businesses contained in ESD guidance and not simply fall under that general business type. Business owners or operators requesting written determination that they are performing essential business will be evaluated on an individual basis by DEC and ESD. Business owners or operators should consult the EO, Department of Labor, and ESD for the most current information on essential and non-essential businesses. Essential and non-essential designations may change upon issuance of new guidance from ESD. All essential businesses that continue to operate under EO 202 must comply with the most current guidance for a safe and clean workplace and they must adhere to guidelines on appropriate social distancing. Any of the essential activities described below also encompass any skilled trades, construction and professional services necessary to perform or supply materials to accomplish the work.

Essential mining activities under Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law include the mining and processing of materials to produce products necessary for essential construction (transportation infrastructure) or essential manufacturing, solution salt mining that produces salts that are used in essential manufacturing for food and pharmaceuticals (including the drilling of new solution salt wells and all maintenance activities conducted on existing solution salt mine infrastructure), underground salt mining that produces salt for use on roads and other surfaces primarily for deicing for public safety recognizing that stockpiles of salt must be created well in advance of seasonal salt use as essential construction (in support of essential business). The mining of materials for ornamental purposes is not considered essential.

Essential remediation, reclamation, and restoration of mine sites include projects involving the reclamation of mine sites following the cessation of mining and the mitigation of existing and potential environmental impacts at mine sites as well as impacts to other lands and natural resources adversely affected by mining operations.

Inspections of mines and mine sites and lands and natural resources affected by mining operations are deemed essential. Inspections of all DEC-regulated well sites and any lands and natural resources affected by construction, development and/or plugging of any regulated well type is deemed essential. Inspections of all DEC-regulated facilities that are permitted and regularly inspected by Division of Mineral Resources' staff are also deemed essential.

Well plugging and site reclamation of any DEC-regulated well including reclamation of any access road or other land affected by operation of the well is deemed essential construction for public health and safety and for environmental protection.

Investigation of alleged violations of Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law or its implementing regulations that require field inspections, construction-related activities, water sampling and other field activities are deemed essential.

Oil and gas well drilling and other hydrocarbon production-related activity should continue as essential infrastructure (power generation and fuel supply). This may include well site construction, well drilling, and any workovers or completions necessary to produce new hydrocarbon sources or increase production in existing wells.

Geo-mechanical storage development projects are essential infrastructure (power generation). This could include all construction, drilling, well plugging and completion activities associated with geo-mechanical energy storage development.

Underground gas storage activities are essential infrastructure (utilities). These projects could include drilling or maintaining storage wells and pipelines.

Stratigraphic wells drilled in association with New York City water infrastructure development are essential infrastructure (public water).

Geothermal well drilling activities are essential infrastructure (power generation).

Other possible projects or businesses may exist in addition to these examples. Project sponsors will need to contact DEC in these cases.

Mineral Resources

Mineral Resources are an important part of New York. New York State is rich in minerals which are mined for industrial and construction uses. Sand and gravel mines are found throughout the state. Metal ores and gem minerals, such as garnet, are mined chiefly in mountainous regions. Salt is extracted from rich deposits in Central New York. Mining occurs in every county in New York State except Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the annual value of New York's mineral production in 2015 (most recent year available) at $1.43 billion, making a substantial contribution to the state's total economy. New York is among the top third in the nation in value of minerals produced.

Leading Mineral Commodities Produced in New York State (Based on Value, 2015):

  1. Salt
  2. Crushed stone
  3. Construction sand and gravel

About Mineral Resources in New York State:

  • New York is the only state in the U.S. that produces wollastonite.
  • New York ranks first in the nation in the output of garnet.
  • New York ranks third in the production of salt.
  • New York ranks ninth in the production of construction sand and gravel.

Protecting the Environment

The Division of Mineral Resources carries out the important responsibilities of protecting the environment when minerals are extracted and ensures that the land is reclaimed when mining is complete. The New York State Legislature enacted Article 23, Title 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) to achieve the policies of the State which are to ensure the environmentally sound, economic development of New York's mineral resources and the return of affected land to productive use for current and future generations. Regulations, 6NYCRR Parts 420-425 (link leaves DEC website), and a permitting program designed to achieve these goals have been established by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Permits and Reclamation

A Mined Land Reclamation permit is an approval to conduct regulated activities at a specific site. Permits are issued by DEC for annual terms of up to five years and may be renewed. Certain extraction of minerals in aid of construction projects or agricultural activities may not be subject to the jurisdiction of the Mined Land Reclamation Law.

In New York, regulated mining operations have an approved mining plan that specifies how mining will take place, and an approved reclamation plan that provided for return to productive use. Financial security submitted by the mining permit applicant ensures that the land will be reclaimed. Since the state Mined Land Reclamation Law was enacted in 1975, more than 4,800 mines have received state mining permits and more than 2,500 mines have been reclaimed. The majority of the reclaimed mines have been reclaimed by operators. In the small number of cases where the operators have defaulted on their obligation to reclaim, DEC seized the financial security and used it to carry out the reclamation of the mine.

Today, sites in New York State that were previously mined are used as farms, wetlands, wildlife habitats, residential developments and public recreation areas. Mined land reclamation is an environmental success story in New York.

Before and After Photos

Town of North Hempstead's Morewood Property Mine before reclamation
Town of Hemptstead's Morewood Property in Nassau County,
before reclamation.
Town of Hempstead's Morewood Property Mine after reclamation, now a public golf course.
Morewood Property after reclamation, now a golf course.
2002 NYS Reclamation award winner.
Calvin L. Rasweiler Farm Mine, Columbia County, before reclamation.
Calvin L. Rasweiler Farm Mine in Columbia County, before reclamation.
Calvin L. Rasweiler Farm Mine, Columbia County, after reclamation.
Calvin L. Rasweiler Farm Mine in Columbia County, after reclamation.

Contact Us

Questions regarding Mined Land Reclamation Permit applications or related activities should be directed to the appropriate regional office based on where the project is proposed or located. Questions regarding statewide policy, financial security or regulatory fees should be directed to Central Office in Albany.

Email us with general questions, or contact the appropriate staff in the table below:

Mined Land Contacts
Region Telephone
Region 1 (631) 444-0274
Region 3 (845) 256-3826
Region 4 (518) 357-2254
Region 5 (518) 623-1271
Region 6 (315) 785-2269
Region 7 (315) 426-7412
Region 8 (585) 226-5327
Region 9 (716) 379-6380
Statewide -
Financial Security
(518) 402-8056
Regulatory Fees (518) 402-8493
Central Office (518) 402-8056

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