BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 108
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:  June 27, 2011

                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
                                Wesley Chesbro, Chair
                     SB 108 (Rubio) - As Amended:  June 20, 2011

           SENATE VOTE  :  39-0
           
          SUBJECT  :  Surface mining: idle mines

           SUMMARY  :  Amends the definition of an idle mine by taking a 
          snapshot of a five year period, rather than the life of the 
          mine, to determine if production has been curtailed to the point 
          where the interim management plan requirements should apply; 
          allows a mining operator to come into compliance with the 
          Surface Mining and Reclamation Act's (SMARA) idle mine 
          requirements by July 1, 2013 if the operator has neglected to 
          prepare an interim management plan (IMP) as required by law.

           EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Prohibits conducting surface mining operations without first 
            obtaining a permit, submitting a reclamation plan, and 
            providing financial assurances to a lead agency, which is 
            usually a local government.   

           2)Requires a surface mining operator to submit an IMP to the 
            lead agency for review and approval within 90 days of a 
            surface mining operation becoming idle.  
           
           3)Defines idle mines as those at which operations are curtailed 
            for a period of one year or more by more than 90% of the 
            previous maximum annual mineral production and where there is 
            an intent to resume surface mining operations at a future 
            date.

          4)Requires that an IMP, among other things, provide measures for 
            maintaining the site in a safe and stable condition.

          5)Establishes that an IMP is an amendment to the applicable 
            reclamation plan and is not subject to the California 
            Environmental Quality Act.
           
           6)Allows an IMP to remain in effect for a period not to exceed 
            five years, at which time the lead agency shall either (1) 








                                                                  SB 108
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            renew the IMP for another period not to exceed five years if 
            the surface mining operator has complied fully with the IMP or 
            (2) require the surface mining operator to commence 
            reclamation in accordance with its approved reclamation plan.
           
           7)Classifies a surface mining operation that remains idle for 
            over one year without an approved IMP as "abandoned" and 
            requires the operator to commence and complete reclamation in 
            accordance with the approved reclamation plan.

          8)Requires the owner or the operator of a mining operation 
            within the state to annually provide the director of the 
            Department of Conservation with a report that identifies, 
            among other things, the mining operation's status (i.e. 
            active, idle, reclaimed, or in the process of being reclaimed) 
            and the commodities produced by the mine and the type of 
            mining operation.

           THIS BILL:

           1)Defines idle mines as those at which operations are curtailed 
            for a period of one year or more by more than 90% of the 
            maximum annual mineral production  within any of the last five 
            years  and where there is an intent to resume surface mining 
            operations at a future date.

          2)Permits a mine operator who has failed to properly report a 
            mine's mineral production or mine status on its annual report 
            to the director of the Department of Conservation to correct 
            the report in its 2012 annual report if both of the following 
            occur:

             a)   The 2012 annual report is submitted on or before July 1, 
               2013.

             b)   The lead agency confirms in writing to the Department of 
               Conservation all of the following:

               i)     The operator has notified the lead agency that it 
                 intends to continue surface mining operations.

               ii)    The operator has an existing, valid permit or a 
                 vested right to conduct surface mining operations.

               iii)   The operator's reclamation plan has been approved 








                                                                  SB 108
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                 and inspected by the lead agency.  The Office of Mine 
                 Reclamation may enter a mine site to conduct an 
                 inspection.

               iv)    The operator demonstrates that there are 
                 commercially useful mineral reserves remaining at the 
                 permitted surface mining operation.

          3)Requires payment of all unpaid fees for the years during which 
            the operation's status was not properly reported.

          4)Allows a mine operation that is considered abandoned because 
            it became idle and did not have an approved IMP to return to 
            the idle status at the request of the operator if an IMP is 
            approved by July 1, 2013, and #2 and 3 above are met.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :

           1)Background.   According to a 2011 State Mining and Geology 
            Board report, lack of operator adherence to statutory 
            requirements can result in many surface mining operations 
            becoming abandoned even if such operations had an intent to 
            resume mining.  
             
             Currently, 97 mines should have IMPs but only 35 have them, 
            and 35 lead agencies (more than 28% of all lead agencies in 
            California) had mines that required IMPs but did not have them 
            in place.

            Lack of operator compliance with SMARA's idle mine 
            requirements, and lack of IMP monitoring by SMARA lead 
            agencies, has resulted in many surface mining operations 
            becoming statutorily abandoned, even if such operations had an 
            intent to resume mining.

            In the report's conclusion, the State Mining and Geology Board 
            highlights the need for legislative action to provide relief 
            to operators that failed to follow statutory requirements for 
            IMPs.

            This bill provides a brief amnesty period for a mining 
            operator who did not adhere to SMARA's statutory requirements 
            regarding IMPs.  Specifically, this bill will allow a mining 








                                                                  SB 108
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            operator to come into compliance with the idle mine 
            requirements by July 1, 2013. Without this amnesty, an 
            operator of a mine that has inadvertently become abandoned 
            will be forced to execute its reclamation plan.  If an 
            operator wishes to resume mining, it would be able to do so 
            once reclamation is completed and new permits are obtained.  
            This would lead to an absurd and unproductive result since the 
            operator would have to essentially undue the reclamation work 
            it was required to complete. 

            This bill also amends the definition of an idle mine by taking 
            a snapshot of a five year period, rather than the life of the 
            mine, to determine if production has been curtailed to the 
            point where the interim management plan requirements should 
            apply.  This amendment is in response to the recession and 
            will prevent a mine from becoming idle simply because the 
            demand for materials is significantly lower than usual.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          California Cement Manufacturers Environmental Coalition
          California Construction and Industrial Materials Association
          CalPortland Company
          Sespe Consulting, Inc.
          Specialty Minerals Inc.
          Vulcan Materials Company, Western Division
          Werner Corporation
          West Coast Aggregates, Inc.
           
            Opposition 
           
          None on file


           Analysis Prepared by  :  Mario DeBernardo / NAT. RES. / (916) 
          319-2092