Reclamation Bonding Requirements for Hardrock Exploration and Mining Projects

Author(s): 
Jeff Parshley, Debra Struhsacker
Date: 
Thursday, January 15, 2009
First presented: 
Northwest Mining Association
Type: 
Published paper
Category: 
Environmental/Social

Full Title -  The Evolution of Federal and Nevada State Reclamation Bonding Requirements for Hardrock Exploration and Mining Projects: A Case History Documenting How Federal and State Regulators used Existing Regulatory Authorities to Respond to Shortcomings in the Reclamation Bonding Program

This Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) white paper documents the evolution of the federal and the Nevada state bonding requirements for hardrock exploration and mining projects. Although this white paper focuses primarily on Nevada –the state with the most exploration and mining activity on federal land and the hub of thJee U.S. gold mining industry – other western states have similar regulatory programs and reclamation bonding requirements for hardrock mineral activities.

Key findings in this white paper include:

• The Nevada mining industry and state and federal regulators recently worked together to update and refine bonding requirements.

  • The resulting modifications to the Nevada bonding program reflect a collaborative effort to develop comprehensive and conservative bonds that consider all likely contingencies based on agency costs to implement, manage, and complete reclamation of sites requiring governmental intervention.

 

• Existing federal and Nevada state laws and regulations governing hardrock exploration and mining clearly provided the necessary authority and flexibility for regulators to make changes in response to the problems encountered during agency reclamation of several bankruptcy sites.

  • Federal and Nevada regulators – with the mining industry’s full participation and concurrence – have significantly improved and expanded reclamation bonding requirements in the last few years based on the lessons learned at the bankruptcy sites.

 

• Existing federal and Nevada state laws and regulations include comprehensive environmental protection and reclamation bonding requirements for hardrock mines.

  • These laws and regulations already give regulators the necessary tools to protect the environment, to ensure proper reclamation, and to deal effectively with problems, gaps, or unforeseen situations should they develop in the future.

 

• The recent changes that federal and Nevada regulators made to the bonding program clearly demonstrate that the current federal and state regulations work well.

• The sweeping changes to the nation’s environmental and regulatory programs governing hardrock mining that are included in the House Mining Law bill (H.R. 699) are not needed.

  • The environmental provisions in H.R. 699 are solutions in search of a problem which seek to fix a system that is working well and does not need “fixing.”

Feature Author

Jeff Parshley

Jeff Parshley has more than 30 years of project experience throughout North America, Latin America, Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa, which includes mine permitting, environmental audits, feasibility and due diligence studies, mine closure design and permitting, liability assessments, reclamation and closure cost estimating, pit lake studies, mine waste studies and environmental geology. He has considerable experience in the permitting and closure of gold heap leach operations in the western U.S. and has lectured in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Australia and Africa on mine closure planning and design. He regularly heads multi-disciplinary teams on projects ranging from environmental liability assessments to permitting to mine closure. He is currently carrying out a number of mine permitting, remediation and environmental geochemistry projects, a large underground mine expansion and several permanent mine closures.

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