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Mining Forms and Procedures

How to Obtain a Mining Permit/Reclamation Plan

All surface mining operations within the County subject to SMARA must have the following:  the appropriate land use permit, reclamation plan, and financial assurance(s). 

To obtain a mining permit and to acquire details on the approval process, please speak to staff within the Mining Section. The following resources are for your reference:

View instructions for financial assurances [pdf].

The general threshold criteria that triggers SMARA includes, but not limited to, mineral extraction activities occurring after January 1, 1976, prospecting for and extracting minerals for purposes where the removal of overburden, minerals and mining wastes exceed 1,000 cubic yards in any one location and/or the total surface area disturbed is greater than one acre (SMARA §2714(d)).

SMARA allows for a one-time exemption for certain surface mining activities should the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) determines the operation to be of an infrequent nature and involve only minor surface disturbances. It is recognized that not all surface mining activities are a perfect “fit” under SMARA regulations, and that many projects of limited size, duration, economic and environmental impact could be prevented, delayed, or rendered uneconomic if the requirements of SMARA were fully applied.  To address these special situations, SMARA provides SMGB with authority under SMARA §2714(f) to grant exemptions for specific conditions when the proposed activity is of an infrequent nature and involves only minor surface disturbance.  

SMARA Compliance Program

For purposes of surface mining and reclamation, the provisions of the  Development Code [pdf] apply to all public and private properties within the unincorporated areas of the County.  The County of San Bernardino is the “lead agency” for administering SMARA, and SMARA is made part of the Development Code in full.  As “lead agency,” the County is responsible for enforcing SMARA regulations.   This includes conducting annual mine inspections.

Each year mine operators must demonstrate compliance with SMARA.  To demonstrate compliance, operators must submit a Mining Operation Annual Report (MRRC-2) to the Department of Conservation, Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR), submit an Annual Mine Inspection and Report Application Questionnaire and updated Financial Assurance Cost Estimate to the County of San Bernardino, and receive a surface mine inspection report (MRRC-1) to note site conditions and ensure that SMARA requirements are met and ensure that sufficient funds are available to reclaim disturbed areas caused by surface mining-related activities. Financial assurances are to remain in effect for the duration of the surface mining operation and any additional period until reclamation is certified complete (SMARA §2773.1.) by the County (in accordance with State regulation procedures).

The County recognizes that mining is an important endeavor but non-compliance cannot be ignored. 

Financial Assurance Requirement

SMARA §2773.1(a)(3) requires that the financial assurances [pdf] for each mining operation be adjusted annually to account for new lands disturbed, inflation, and reclamation of lands accomplished in accordance with SMARA and the site’s approved reclamation plan.

Section 3804 of the State regulations states:

“The financial assurance amount shall be calculated… and based on (1) an analysis of the physical activities and materials necessary to implement the approved reclamation plan; (2) the lead agency’s unit costs, or costs for third party contracting, for each of these activities, if applicable, (3) the number of units of each of these activities, if applicable; (4) a contingency amount not to exceed 10% of the reclamation cost. The calculated amount should not include the cost of completing mining of the site.”

Financial Assurance Cost Estimate (FACE)

In order to meet the SMARA requirement, surface mining operators must submit a Financial Assurance Cost Estimate each year. SMARA requires that all mine operators submit the FACE within 30 days of the surface mine inspection.

The County will review the submitted FACE within 60 days and provide comments to the Operator.  The operator has 30 days to respond to all comments provided and prepare a revised FACE, if necessary. If the operator cannot adequately address all of the comments , the County will make a final determination and forward the FACE to the Department of Conservation, Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR) for review, pursuant to SMARA §2773.1.  When DMR agrees with the County that the FACE is adequate and meets the requirements of SMARA, the County will require the mine operator to post a Financial Assurance Mechanism.

Financial Assurance Mechanisms (FAM)

SMARA §2773.1 and Section 3800 of the State regulations (California Code of Regulations Title 14, §3804) provides that the following are acceptable Financial Assurance Mechanisms:

  • Surety Bond
  • Irrevocable Letters of Credit (LOC)
  • Trust Funds
  • Certificates of Deposit (CD)

Government agencies are also allowed to use:

  • Pledge of Revenue
  • Budget set aside

At a minimum, FAMs are to be made payable to both the County and the Department of Conservation, in some cases, additionally beneficiaries may include the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management or the Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service Updated FAMs must be posted when the FACE is approved by the County.

Additional Resources