Section 5: Mining licenses; certificate of insurance coverage; surety bonds; license violations; fees and receipts; hearings
Section 5. The commissioner shall issue a license to conduct coal mining operations before any extraction of coal can begin in the commonwealth. The application for a coal mining license shall include the following procedures and requirements:
(a) a detailed description of the type of mining and engineering process to be used;
(b) the names and addresses of the license applicant and all owners and officers of the corporations and companies to be involved with the mining operation;
(c) the names and addresses of all legal owners of record of the land and abutting lands;
(d) the names and addresses of all owners of the coal to be mined;
(e) the total size of the area to be mined and area to be worked at any one time;
(f) the results of test borings and explorations that have been made;
(g) a timetable giving a detailed time period that will govern the operation of the mine and the estimated closing out of mined areas;
(h) a detailed set of maps drawn to a scale of not more than one hundred feet to one inch, delineating the following information: the names and locations of all streams, creeks, above and below ground water systems including all aquifers; a statement describing the quality of the water present in the area to be mined; the location of all buildings, oil and gas wells, all pipelines and communication lines, or any pertinent resource or structure within five hundred feet of the farthest boundary of any extension of the mine or mining operation; the proposed depths and extensions of all tunnels and shafts as well as any excavations and mine workings or any waste disposal or mine refuse areas; the thickness and distribution of the coal deposit, the soil and mineral stratification of the area and any other geological characteristics that would be affected by any coal mining operation; the location of all exploratory drill holes and the remainder of the coal deposit not to be extracted by the mining operation and any other information which the commissioner deems necessary.
(i) an environmental impact report containing detailed statements describing the nature and extent of the proposed work and related activities and its environmental impact, all measures being utilized to minimize environmental damage, any adverse short term and long term environmental consequences which cannot be avoided should the work be performed, alternatives to the proposed action and their environmental consequences. This impact statement shall deal specifically with all of the potential hazards of the proposed mine including coal dust, mine gases, or toxic vapors escaping from the mine, and the potential for mine fires and water contamination that may result from operation of the mine;
(j) a comprehensive reclamation plan including maps and potential land use patterns and a detailed proposal showing the manner and timetable for backfilling, sealing of tunnels and any other reclamation procedures required by the commissioner;
(k) an advertisement for publication in the newspaper with the largest circulation in the county of the proposed mining site at least once each week for four successive weeks prior to public hearings as hereinafter required in this section. The advertisement shall state the applicant's intention to mine, the mining procedures to be used, the proposed boundaries of the mining operation, a statement that a detailed map of the proposed operation is available from the company upon request and that the application and environmental impact can be inspected at the office of the commissioner;
(l) a license fee to be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven, a certain portion of which, determined by said commissioner, shall accompany the application.
Each applicant for a coal mining license shall submit to the commissioner a certificate issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in the commonwealth certifying that the applicant has a public liability insurance policy in force covering coal mining operations and mine related reclamation procedures in the commonwealth. Such policy shall provide compensation for personal injury and property damage in an amount adequate to compensate any or all persons damaged or injured as the result of a mining operation or reclamation process with the mine. This liability insurance policy shall provide protection from damage caused by mine cave-ins, or sink holes, any leakage or production of mine gases or toxic chemical vapors that might escape or any water damage, including all forms of water pollution or damage to surface waters, drinking water systems, aquifers, underground water systems, or any other damage resulting from the operation of the mine. Such liability insurance policies shall be maintained in full force during the mining operation and for a period of five years after the legal closing of the mine. The amount of the liability policy shall be determined by the commissioner and shall include, but not be limited to, compensation for any public health or public safety hazards that may occur. Termination of these policies shall occur five years after the commissioner has certified the legal closing of the mine.
The commissioner shall require the applicant to file a bond in a form prescribed by the secretary payable to the commonwealth and conditioned upon the applicants' faithful performance of mining or mining operations in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Liability under said bond shall continue for the duration of the operation of the mine and for a period of five years after the legal closing of the mine at which time said bond shall have no force and effect, and said bond or any cash securities substituted for it shall be returned to the applicator licensee. Such bond shall be signed by the coal mine operator as principal and by a good and sufficient corporate surety authorized to do business in the commonwealth.
If at any time the corporate surety controlling the bond obligations for the mine operator forfeits the license to operate in the commonwealth, the coal mining license shall be declared invalid until such time as a substitute bond is accepted by the commissioner.
Subject to the provisions of this chapter the commissioner shall institute proceedings to have the bond of the licensee forfeited for violation of the license provisions or any violations of the provisions of this chapter. The commissioner shall notify the licensee in writing of any such alleged violation and shall afford the licensee the right to a hearing before the commissioner within thirty days after issuance of such notice. At the conclusion of the hearing, the commissioner shall either withdraw the notice of violation or shall request the attorney general to institute proceedings to have the bond of the licensee forfeited.
All funds received by the commissioner from fees, forfeiture of bonds and penalties provided under the terms of this chapter, shall be held by the state treasurer in a special fund separate from all other monies in the state treasury, to be known as the Anthracite Coal Mining Reclamation Fund and shall be used by the commissioner for the purpose of administering the provisions of this chapter affected by the coal mining operation.
Before any determination is made as to the granting of a license to mine, the commissioner shall conduct a public hearing regarding the license application to consider all relevant issues pertaining to the application including, but not limited to, impact upon the surrounding lands and environment, and all potential public health and safety hazards that may result from a coal mining operation. Public notification of the hearing shall be made at least sixty days prior to said hearing. No coal mining license shall be granted until such time as the applicant and the commissioner have complied with all of the public information requirements set forth under the provisions of this chapter.
The commissioner shall grant a coal mining license if he determines that the reclamation of the mined area and affected lands coincides with the requirements set forth in this chapter and are attainable and a reclamation program will be undertaken as contemporaneously as practicable with the extraction of the coal deposit; that the affected lands may be reclaimed to a condition of use at least fully capable of supporting all practicable uses which the land was capable of supporting prior to such coal mining operation or equal or better uses that can reasonably be attained; that the applicant's environmental impact report has dealt with all relevant issues concerning the proposed mine; that there is sufficient quantity of high quality coal to warrant a mining operation; that other resources of the area can be preserved; that the protection of the quality of the air, water and other resources of the commonwealth is assured; that the proposed mine will not pose a danger to the public health and safety of the affected area; that the applicant has agreed to comply with the bonding and public liability insurance requirements as established by the provisions of this chapter; that there has been compliance with all provisions of this chapter, and that any other reasonable requirements established by the commissioner are satisfied.