Mineral rights reserved and excepted.
Persons holding mineral rights in wildlife refuge lands by reservation in the conveyance to the United States and persons holding mineral rights in such lands which rights vested prior to the acquisition of the lands by the United States shall, to the greatest extent practicable, conduct all exploration, development, and production operations in such a manner as to prevent damage, erosion, pollution, or contamination to the lands, waters, facilities and vegetation of the area. So far as is practicable, such operations must also be conducted without interference with the operation of the refuge or disturbance to the wildlife thereon. Physical occupancy of the area must be kept to the minimum space compatible with the conduct of efficient mineral operations. Persons conducting mineral operations on refuge areas must comply with all applicable Federal and State laws and regulations for the protection of wildlife and the administration of the area. Oil field brine, slag, and all other waste and contaminating substances must be kept in the smallest practicable area, must be confined so as to prevent escape as a result of rains and high water or otherwise, and must be removed from the area as quickly as practicable in such a manner as to prevent contamination, pollution, damage, or injury to the lands, waters, facilities, or vegetation of the refuge or to wildlife. Structures and equipment must be removed from the area when the need for them has ended. Upon the cessation of operations the area shall be restored as nearly as possible to its condition prior to the commencement of operations. Nothing in this section shall be applied so as to contravene or nullify rights vested in holders of mineral interests on refuge lands.