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General Laws

Section 54. The division of mineral resources shall be within the department of environmental protection in this section and in section fifty-five called the department and shall be under the administrative supervision of a director who shall administer the laws, rules and regulations relating to the mineral resources of the commonwealth. The term “mineral resources”, as used in this section and in sections fifty-two and fifty-three, shall mean oil, gas, fossil fuels, sulphur, metals, ores, minerals, rock, soil, sand and gravel, or in coastal waters, as defined in section one of chapter one hundred and thirty, or lands thereunder. Said director may appoint such employees, experts and consultants as he deems necessary to carry out his duties. He shall, with the approval of the department, (a) license orderly exploration for mineral resources; (b) lease exclusive rights for extraction of such mineral resources as have been discovered; (c) establish charges and fees for such licenses and leases which will permit a fair profit for the licensee and lessee; and (d) adopt, after a public hearing, such rules and regulations relating to such exploration and extraction of mineral resources, and the transportation thereof in or over the coastal waters of the commonwealth, as will insure the proper utilization of such resources consistent with the harvesting and propagation of other valuable natural resources and the general safety, welfare and convenience of the commonwealth. No license to explore in the coastal waters shall be issued, no lease for extraction of mineral resources shall be granted, no charge or fee for such license or lease shall be established, no rule or regulation relating to such exploration or extraction shall be adopted, amended or rescinded unless and until said director shall first, and in each instance, hold a public hearing, notice of which, including a statement of intent, shall be sent, at least thirty days prior to said public hearing, to each city and town bordering on the coastal waters of the commonwealth. Such rules and regulations may provide for reasonable exemptions from the requirements of section fifty-three relative to leases for the extraction of mineral resources.

Sub-surface exploration for the purposes of design of, and the removal of material necessary for, beach replenishment, navigational improvement projects and piers, and bridges, culverts and other similar structures, approved by the department of highways and the department shall be exempt from the provisions of this section. Explorations for or extraction of minerals necessary for other public purposes may be exempted by the director from the provisions of this section requiring payment of a fee and posting of an indemnity and performance bond.

No lease shall be issued for the extraction of any mineral resource until such time as the department has obtained reliable information as to the quantities, quality and location of the resource available within the commonwealth, and as to the extent of and risk of harm to marine and other natural resources, which information shall be made public prior to the public hearing on any lease for the extraction of said resource.

The licensee or lessee shall not carry out any authorized operation in such a manner as to interfere unreasonably with navigation or fishing, or with the conservation of natural resources.

The licensee or lessee shall permit any official of the commonwealth thereunto authorized by the director to observe operations from time to time, and shall make available to said official any and all records in regard to depths being dredged or drilled, quantities being removed and type of materials found during extraction operations.

The licensee or lessee shall at all times keep the commonwealth effectually indemnified against all actions, proceedings, costs, charges, claims and demands whatsoever which may be made or brought against the commonwealth or its agents by any third party in relation to or in connection with this license or lease on any matter or thing done or purported to be done in pursuance thereof by posting a bond satisfactory to the director.

No licensee or lessee shall proceed to remove any minerals from the seabed and subsoil of the commonwealth until a bond has been posted with the department guaranteeing faithful performance of the contract with the commonwealth, faithful observance of any applicable rules, regulations and statutes, and timely payment as provided in said contract for any materials removed.

The director shall reserve the right to revoke or suspend, with the approval of the department, any license or lease issued hereunder, thereby terminating all rights granted thereunder, upon any breach or non-observance by the licensee of any of the terms and conditions of the license or lease, or upon any attempt to assign the rights of the licensee to any third party, for any reason, or any evidence of insolvency or other inability to perform the contract.

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