43 CFR 23.5 - Technical examination of prospective surface exploration and mining operations.
(1) In connection with an application for a permit or lease under the mineral leasing acts, the district manager shall make, or cause to be made, a technical examination of the prospective effects of the proposed exploration or surface mining operations upon the environment. The technical examination shall take into consideration the need for the preservation and protection of other resources, including recreational, scenic, historic, and ecological values; the control of erosion, flooding, and pollution of water; the isolation of toxic materials; the prevention of air pollution; the reclamation by revegetation, replacement of soil, or by other means, of lands affected by the exploration or mining operations; the prevention of slides; the protection of fish and wildlife and their habitat; and the prevention of hazards to public health and safety.
(2) A technical examination of an area should be made with the recognition that actual potential mining sites and mining operations vary widely with respect to topography, climate, surrounding land uses, proximity to densely used areas, and other environmental influences and that mining and reclamation requirements should provide sufficient flexibility to permit adjustment to local conditions.
(b) Based upon the technical examination, the district manager shall formulate the general requirements which the applicant must meet for the protection of nonmineral resources during the conduct of exploration or mining operations and for the reclamation of lands or waters affected by exploration or mining operations. The general requirements shall be made known in writing to the applicant before the issuance of a permit or lease or the making of a contract, and upon acceptance thereof by the applicant, shall be incorporated in the permit, lease, or contract. If an application or offer is made under the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands and if the lands are under the jurisdiction of an agency other than the Department of the Interior, the requirements must incorporate provisions prescribed by that agency. If the application or offer is made under the Mineral Leasing Act of February 25, 1920, and if the lands are under the jurisdiction of an agency other than the Department of the Interior, the district manager shall consult representatives of the agency administering the land and obtain their recommendations for provisions to be incorporated in the general requirements. If the district manager does not concur in the recommendations, the issues shall be referred for resolution to the Under Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the comparable officer of the agency submitting the recommendations. In the case of disagreement on the issues which are so referred, the Secretary of the Interior shall make a determination on the recommendations which shall be final and binding.
(c) In each instance in which an application or offer is made under the mineral leasing acts, the mining supervisor shall participate in the technical examination and in the formulation of the general requirements. If the lands covered by an application or offer are under the jurisdiction of a bureau of the Department of the Interior other than the Bureau of Land Management, the district manager shall consult representatives of the bureau administering the land. If the lands covered by the application or offer are under the jurisdiction of an agency other than the Department of the Interior and that agency makes a technical examination of the type provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, district managers and mining supervisors are authorized to participate in that examination.
(d) Whenever it is determined that any part of the area described in an application or offer for a permit, lease, or contract is such that previous experience under similar conditions has shown that operations cannot feasibly be conducted by any known methods or measures to avoid -
(1) Rock or landslides which would be a hazard to human lives or endanger or destroy private or public property; or
(2) Substantial deposition of sediment and silt into streams, lakes, reservoirs; or
(3) A lowering of water quality below standards established by the appropriate State water pollution control agency, or by the Secretary of the Interior; or
(4) A lowering of the quality of waters whose quality exceeds that required by the established standards - unless and until it has been affirmatively demonstrated to the State water pollution control agency and to the Department of the Interior that such lowering of quality is necessary to economic and social development and will not preclude any assigned uses made of such waters; or
(5) The destruction of key wildlife habitat or important scenic, historical, or other natural or cultural features; the district manager may prohibit or otherwise restrict operations on such part of an area.
(e) If, on the basis of a technical examination, the district manager determines that there is a likelihood that there will be a lowering of water quality as described in paragraphs (d) (3) and (4) of this section caused by the operation, no lease or permit shall be issued or contract made until after consultation with the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration and a finding by the Administration that the proposed operation would not be in violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (33 U.S.C. section 466 et seq.) or of Executive Order No. 11288 (31 FR 9261). Where a permit or lease is involved the district manager's determination shall be made in consultation with the mining supervisor.
(f) Each notice of a proposed appropriation of a materials site filed by the Department of Transportation under 23 U.S.C. 317 shall be transmitted to the proper district manager. The district manager shall cause a technical examination to be made as provided in paragraph (a) of this section and shall formulate the requirements which the State highway department or its nominee must meet. If the land covered by the proposed appropriation is under the jurisdiction of a bureau of the Department other than the Bureau of Land Management, the district manager shall consult representatives of the bureau administering the land. If the district manager determines, or, in an instance in which the land is administered by another bureau, a representative of that bureau determines that the proposed appropriation is contrary to the public interest or is inconsistent with the purposes for which such land or materials are reserved, the district manager shall promptly submit the matter to the Secretary of the Interior for his decision. In other instances, the district manager shall notify the Department of Transportation of the requirements and conditions which the State highway department or its nominee must meet.