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Before any activity may occur on a mine site, the operator must post a performance bond with the Division. The bond is held until the operator completely restores any disturbed areas to the post-mining conditions specified in the permit. The bond coordinator and the reclamation specialist assigned to the permit calculate bond rates, conduct bond inspections, and recommend bond release or denial. The bond coordinator ensures that landowners and other affected parties are aware of bond conditions, and coordinates public comments on bond issues. The records manager maintains all the financial bond records and handles the documents submitted by the bonding companies.
The first phase is released when final grading of the area is complete, and topsoil and subsoil have been replaced and stabilized. The area must be graded to approximate original contour standards, and all drainage control features (terraces, dry dams, etc.) are in place and functioning properly. Water impoundments should be constructed to design and at pool stage.
The second phase is released when the area has been revegetated to the approved post-mining land use. Prime farmland must have one proof of productivity associated with it. Productivity can be proven with corn, wheat, soybeans or mixed hay. Specialty crops are acceptable on a case by case basis. Water impoundments must be maintaining pool stage. Forest and wildlife areas must be planted with the approved species of trees and/or shrubs but no stem counts are required at this time. A general rule of thumb is that at least 50% of the species are alive and healthy.
Phase III (final release) is released a minimum of five years after the area has been initially seeded, and two additional proof of productivities have been submitted for prime farmland areas. One of the crops must be soybeans or corn. Non-prime cropland areas and pastureland areas must have two proofs of productivity. A 90% ground cover of grasses and legumes must also be present on pastureland areas. At least 80% of the trees and/or shrubs must have been in place for three years on forest and wildlife areas.