South Carolina has about 500 active mine operating permits. In 1974, the S.C. Mining Act was passed to ensure all mined lands would be returned to some useful purpose and for the protection of people and the environment. The Act and regulations outline the application process, how to conduct mine operations, and minimum reclamation standards. The Act defines mining as the removal of ores from the ground for sale (i.e., granite quarries) or for use in a business (i.e., brick manufacturing). There are several types of surface mining done in South Carolina: open pit (i.e., granite, vermiculite), strip mines (i.e., sand, clay, gravel) and sand dredging from river bottoms.
South Carolina issues two types of mine permits and one mineral exploration certificate. Individual mine operating permits are used for operations of any size or mineral resources. General mine operating permits are limited to areas less than five acres and the removal of only sand/clay or topsoil with no processing of material. Exploration certificates are granted for small areas to determine the location, quality or quantity of the mineral deposit. Mine permits and certificates are issued through the Section of Mining and Reclamation in DHEC's Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management.
Practices such as farming, on-site construction and the harvesting of oysters from coastal bottom areas are not considered mining and do not require mining permits. Borrow pits operated by or for the S.C. Department of Transportation are exempt from mining permits if the material is used solely for the building or repair of South Carolina public roads.
For mining assistance, call (803) 898-2000 or email AskMines@dhec.sc.gov.