Industrial minerals operations in Ohio facing possible regulation legislation

COLUMBUS – Legislation to strengthen regulations governing the mining of industrial minerals – such as limestone, gravel and clay has received its first hearing in the Ohio Senate.

Senate Bill 83 represents the first comprehensive overhaul of the state’s industrial minerals laws since 1974.

Industrial minerals extracted in Ohio include sand and gravel, limestone, dolomite, salt, clay, sandstone, shale, gypsum and peat. According to ODNR, the industry generates sales of more than $750,000,000 annually and employs nearly 5,000 Ohioans in 86 of the state’s 88 counties.

Citizen involvement.

The bill provides improved access for public and local government involvement in the industrial mineral permitting process. Public notice requirements combined with the zoning information will allow the public and local authorities to pro-actively view proposed plans. Also, advertisements announcing the permit application will be run in a local newspaper, once a week for four consecutive weeks.

In addition, public notification of significant revisions to a permit will be required. Open public involvement on the front-end can and will lead to communities being better able to reach good planning decisions with operators.

This bill adds permitting requirements and public notification for in-stream or near-stream permits. Currently, no such rules exist.

Negotiating positions.

Community leaders will be discussing issues over a pending application rather than an issued permit. This way the proposed law would allow citizens and local authorities to deal with new operations in a pro-active mode before a permit decision has been made.

Under provisions in the bill, a mining permit application must include a groundwater modeling study, allowing local authorities and state regulators to take into account a proposed operation’s impact on the region’s hydrology. It also provides adjacent property owners with new protections against potential groundwater loss due to mining operations.

Blasting protection.

The legislation includes new requirements with regard to blasting at industrial mineral quarries and mines, affording greater protection for nearby homes and businesses. The new legislation also provides new tools for industrial minerals companies, helping them to responsibly carry out mining operations in ways from which all Ohioans benefit.

These include an increase in the permit term from 10 years to 15 years, updated bonding procedures and credits for companies demonstrating past good performance.

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