The Secretary, upon determining that maximum economic recovery of the coal deposit or deposits is served thereby, may approve the consolidation of coal leases into a logical mining unit. Such consolidation may only take place after a public hearing, if requested by any person whose interest is or may be adversely affected. A logical mining unit is an area of land in which the coal resources can be developed in an efficient, economical, and orderly manner as a unit with due regard to conservation of coal reserves and other resources. A logical mining unit may consist of one or more Federal leaseholds, and may include intervening or adjacent lands in which the United States does not own the coal resources, but all the lands in a logical mining unit must be under the effective control of a single operator, be able to be developed and operated as a single operation and be contiguous.
In approving a logical mining unit, the Secretary may provide, among other things, that (i) diligent development, continuous operation, and production on any Federal lease or non-Federal land in the logical mining unit shall be construed as occurring on all Federal leases in that logical mining unit, and (ii) the rentals and royalties for all Federal leases in a logical mining unit may be combined, and advanced royalties paid for any lease within a logical mining unit may be credited against such combined royalties.
The Secretary may amend the provisions of any lease included in a logical mining unit so that mining under that lease will be consistent with the requirements imposed on that logical mining unit.
Leases issued before the date of enactment of this Act may be included with the consent of all lessees in such logical mining unit, and, if so included, shall be subject to the provisions of this section.
By regulation the Secretary may require a lessee under this chapter to form a logical mining unit, and may provide for determination of participating acreage within a unit.
No logical mining unit shall be approved by the Secretary if the total acreage (both Federal and non-Federal) of the unit would exceed twenty-five thousand acres.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to waive the acreage limitations for coal leases contained in section 184(a) of this title.