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The definitions set forth in this section shall govern the construction of this title.

“Area of regional significance” means an area designated by the State Mining and Geology Board which is known to contain a deposit of minerals, the extraction of which is judged to be of prime importance in meeting future needs for minerals in a particular region of the state within which the minerals are located and which, if prematurely developed for alternate incompatible land uses, could result in the premature loss of minerals that are of more than local significance.

“Area of statewide significance” means an area designated by the Board which is known to contain a deposit of minerals, the extraction of which is judged to be of prime importance in meeting future needs for minerals in the state and which, if prematurely developed for alternate incompatible land uses, could result in the permanent loss of minerals that are of more than local or regional significance.

“Borrow pits” means excavations created by the surface mining of rock, unconsolidated geologic deposits or soil to provide material (borrow) for fill elsewhere.

“Compatible land uses” means land uses inherently compatible with mining and/or that require a minimum public or private investment in structure, land improvements, and which may allow mining because of the relative economic value of the land and its improvements. Examples of such uses may include, but shall not be limited to, very low density residential, geographically extensive but low impact industrial, recreational, agricultural, silvicultural, grazing, and open space.

“Haul road” means a road along which material is transported from the area of excavation to the processing plant or stockpile area of the surface mining operation.

“Idle” means surface mining operations curtailed for a period of one year or more, by more than 90 percent of the operation’s previous maximum annual mineral production, with the intent to resume those surface mining operations at a future date.

“Incompatible land uses” means land uses inherently incompatible with mining and/or that require public or private investment in structures, land improvements, and landscaping and that may prevent mining because of the greater economic value of the land and its improvements. Examples of such uses may include, but shall not be limited to, high density residential, low density residential with high unit value, public facilities, geographically limited by impact intensive industrial, and commercial.

“Mined lands” means the surface, subsurface, and ground water of an area in which surface mining operations will be, are being, or have been conducted, including private ways and roads appurtenant to any such area, land excavations, workings, mining waste, and areas in which structures, facilities, equipment, machines, tools, or other materials or property which result from, or are used in, surface mining operations are located.

“Minerals” means any naturally occurring chemical element or compound, or groups of elements and compounds, formed from inorganic processes and organic substances, including, but not limited to, coal, peat, and bituminous rock, excluding geothermal resources, natural gas, and petroleum.

“Operator” means any person who is engaged in surface mining operations, or who contracts with others to conduct operations on his/her behalf, except a person who is engaged in surface mining operations as an employee with wages as his/her sole compensation.

“Reclamation” means the combined process of land treatment that minimizes water degradation, air pollution, damage to aquatic or wildlife habitat, flooding, erosion, and other adverse effects from surface mining operations, including adverse surface effects incidental to underground mines, so that mined lands are reclaimed to a usable condition which is readily adaptable for alternate land uses and creates no danger to public health or safety. The process may extend to affected lands surrounding mined lands, and may require backfilling, grading, resoiling, revegetation, soil compaction, stabilization, or other measures.

“Streambed skimming” means excavation of sand and gravel from streambed deposits above the mean summer water level or stream bottom, whichever is higher.

“Surface mining operations” means all, or any part of, the process included in the mining of minerals on mined lands by removing overburden and mining directly from the mineral deposits, open-pit mining of minerals naturally exposed, mining by the auger method, dredging and quarrying, or surface work incidental to an underground mine. Surface mining operations include, but are not limited to, in-place distillation, retorting or leaching, the production and disposal of mining waste, prospecting and exploratory activities, borrow pitting, streambed skimming, and segregation and stockpiling of mined materials (and recovery of same). (Formerly 33.03)

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