Quarries - Mining Permits
Regulatory Authority for Program
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has the authority to regulate mining under Title 48 of the South Carolina Mining Act (Act). Chapter 89 of the South Carolina Code of Regulations governs how DHEC implements the provisions of the Act.
What is subject to review?
The purpose of the Act and Regulations are to provide that:
- The usefulness, productivity, and scenic values of all lands and waters involved in mining within the state receive the greatest practical degree of protection and restoration; and
- No mining may be carried on in the state unless plans for the mining include reasonable provisions for protection of the surrounding environment and for reclamation of the area of land affected by mining.
What Mine permits are issued by DHEC?
Mine permits and certificates are issued through DHEC's Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management. DHEC 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 of less than five acres and the removal of only sand/clay or topsoil with no processing of material; and
- Exploration certificates are granted for small areas to determine the location, quality, or quantity of the mineral deposit.
Practices such as farming, on-site construction and harvesting of oysters from coastal bottom areas are not considered mining and do not require mining permits. Borrow pits operated by or for the South Carolina Department of Transportation are exempt from mining permits if the material is used solely for the building or repair of South Carolina public roads.
What is the mine permit process?
1. Administrative Review of Application for Completeness - the following documentation/items must be submitted by the applicant for DHEC review:
- Application fee of $600;
- Application for Mine Operating Permit (MR-400);
- Reclamation Plan (MR-500) showing how the land will be restored after mining;
- Dredge Supplement (MR-420SD, if applicable);
- Mine map;
- Reclamation map;
- Location map;
- Topographic map;
- Tax map;
- List of adjacent landowners;
- Land Entry Agreement(s) (MR-600, MR-700); and
- Attorney letter attesting to ownership of property, ownership of mineral rights, and right to mine.
2. Public Notice - notice is given upon receipt of a complete application packet so that any comments or concerns can be addressed during technical review of the application. Following are DHEC's notification methods for a mine application:
- Notification in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed mine.
- Published once per week for two consecutive weeks.
- A 15 day comment period extension after the last day of the newspaper notice.
- Notification to adjacent landowners (provided concurrently with the newspaper notice).
- Notice is sent by regular U.S. mail to adjacent landowners as shown in documentation provided by the applicant from county tax records.
- Notification by electronic mail to various local, state, and federal agencies, including:
- County Administration where mine will be located for zoning, etc.
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for wildlife, endangered species, and wetlands.
- South Carolina Department of Archives and History for historical resources.
- DHEC Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for certification in coastal zones.
- South Carolina Wildlife Federation
- DHEC Bureau of Water/Stormwater for NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitting.
- DHEC Bureau of Air Quality for dry screening operations.
- DHEC Regional Office where mine site is located;
- Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands; and
- United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Posted on DHEC's Public Notice web page during the comment period.
3. Technical Review by DHEC staff includes the following:
- Detailed review of information submitted (maps, mine plan, reclamation plan, setbacks, buffers, environmental protection, etc.);
- Supplemental information submitted by the applicant at DHEC's request;
- Review of comments and information submitted during the comment period;
How can public input/comments be provided to DHEC?
Becoming better informed is an important first step in providing public comments and being involved in DHEC's permitting process(es). DHEC begins accepting comments on a mine permit application when it is placed on public notice. The application and related documents are available for review during the public comment period. Comments may be submitted through U.S. Mail or electronic mail. A company may be required to submit additional information to address issues that are raised. All written comments received during the public comment period will be considered before a decision is made on the permit application.
Public meetings and/or hearings are held before a permit decision is made. A public meeting is typically an informal gathering to learn more about a proposed mine. A public hearing is a formal gathering with a set agenda where comments are accepted and recorded by a court reporter. DHEC will hold a public hearing if requested by ten persons, or by a governmental subh5ision or agency, or by an association having not less than ten members. A request for a public hearing must be made within 15 calendar days from the latest date of public notice of an application. DHEC will send a notice acknowledging receipt of the request for a public hearing to the applicant and to those who requested it within 15 calendar days following receipt of the request. Interested persons are encouraged to attend any public meetings or hearings about a proposed mining project to learn more, voice concerns, and ask questions. Both written and oral comments are accepted at a public hearing.
While DHEC values all comments received, it is important to recognize that we do not have the authority to regulate some common issues related to mining operations, nor can we consider some (such as impact on property values) when making a permit decision. Truck traffic, access to public roads, weight limits, and traffic patterns are governed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the local county. Operating hours and industrial development are governed by the county through zoning and land use planning. Beginning a conversation early about these quality of life issues is an effective way for communities to work together with local officials and mining representatives to find solutions and reach common goals.
DHEC considers fully all written and oral submissions concerning the mining activity before a Department decision is made.
How is compliance with a mine permit evaluated?
Inspections are conducted by DHEC staff to evaluate how the company is complying with permit conditions and requirements. Annual reclamation reports are required to outline the progression of the mine over that year.
What happens when the mine closes?
Upon closure of the mine, the company is required to restore the land as outlined in its approved reclamation plan. The reclamation plan is submitted as part of the initial mine application packet and must include measures to establish, on a continuing basis, vegetative cover, soil stability, water conditions and safety conditions appropriate to the area.