General. Surface land areas affected by mining activities shall be restored in a timely manner --
(a) To conditions that are capable of supporting the use which they were capable of supporting before any mining; or
(b) To higher or better uses achievable under criteria and procedures of this Rule.
(a) Previously mined land. The premining uses of land to which the postmining land use is compared shall be those uses which the land previously supported, if the land had not been previously mined and had been properly managed.
(b) If the premining land use cannot be determined, the postmining land use for the land that has been previously mined and not reclaimed shall be judged on the basis of the land use of surrounding unmined lands and shall be an equal or better use which is compatible with that of the surrounding unmined lands.
(3) The postmining land use for land that has received improper management shall be judged on the basis of the premining use of surrounding lands that have received proper management.
(4) If the premining use of the land was changed within five years of the beginning of mining, the comparison of postmining use to premining use shall include a comparison with the historic use of the land as well as its use immediately preceding mining.
Prior to the release of lands from the permit area in accordance with Rule 880-X-9D-.03(3)
the permit area shall be restored in a timely manner, either to conditions capable of supporting the uses they were capable of supporting before any mining or to conditions capable of supporting approved alternative land uses. Alternative land uses may be approved by the State Regulatory Authority after consultation with the landowner or the land management agency having jurisdiction over the lands, if the following criteria are met.
(a) The proposed postmining land use is compatible with adjacent land use and, where applicable, with existing local, State, or Federal land use policies and plans. A written statement of views of the authorities with statutory responsibilities for land use policies and plans is submitted to the State Regulatory Authority within 60 days of notice by the State Regulatory Authority and before underground mining activities begin. Any required approval, including any necessary zoning, or other changes required for land use by local, State or Federal land management agencies, is obtained and remains valid throughout the underground mining activities.
(b) Specific plans are prepared and submitted to the State Regulatory Authority which show the feasibility of the postmining land use as related to projected land use trends and markets and that include a schedule showing how the proposed use will be developed and achieved within a reasonable time after mining and will be sustained. The State Regulatory Authority may require appropriate demonstrations to show that the planned procedures are feasible, reasonable, and integrated with mining and reclamation, and that the plans will result in successful reclamation.
Provision of any necessary public facilities is ensured as evidenced by letters of commitment from parties other than the person who conducts surface mining activities, as appropriate, to provide the public facilities in a manner compatible with the plans submitted in accordance with Rule 880-X-8I-.11
(d) Plans for the postmining land use are designed under the general supervision of a qualified registered professional engineer, or other appropriate professional, who will ensure that the plans conform to applicable accepted standards for adequate land stability, drainage, vegetative cover, and aesthetic design appropriate for the postmining use of the site.
(e) The proposed use will neither present actual or probable hazard to public health or safety nor will it pose any actual or probable threat of water flow diminution or pollution.
(f) The use will not involve unreasonable delays in reclamation.
Necessary approval of measures to prevent or mitigate adverse affects on fish, wildlife, and related environmental values and threatened or endangered plants and animals is obtained from the State Regulatory Authority and appropriate State and Federal fish and wildlife management agencies have been provided a 60 day period in which to review the plan.