The Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA, Public Resources Code Section 2710 et. seq.) declared that the extraction of minerals is essential to the continued economic well-being of the State and to the needs of the society, and that the reclamation of mined lands is necessary to prevent or minimize adverse effects on the environment and to protect the public health and safety (SMARA P710). As such, SMARA has three primary goals:
- Ensure adverse environmental effects of mining is prevented or minimized and that mined lands are reclaimed to a usable end use;
- Encourage the production and conservation of minerals; and,
- Eliminate residual hazards to the public health and safety.
The County of Ventura is the lead agency for enforcing SMARA regulations on all mining operations located within the County. As Lead Agency, the County is required to annually inspect each mining operation, ensure adequate financial assurances are secured for reclamation, and oversee mining and reclamation activities such that the goals of SMARA are met.
How to Obtain a Mining Permit/Reclamation Plan
SMARA §2770(a) states:
“ No person shall conduct surface mining operation unless a permit is obtained from, a reclamation plan has been submitted to and approved by, and financial assurances for reclamation have been approved by, the lead agency for the operation…”
NCZO §8107-9.4 states:
“No mining related use may commence without the approval of the appropriate land use permit, reclamation plan, and the approval and depositing of the applicable financial assurances for reclamation required pursuant to this Chapter.”
In order to conduct surface mining activities in the County, the mining operator must obtain the following:
- A local mining permit (Conditional Use Permit)
Pursuant to the Ventura County Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) §8105-4, a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is required to operate a surface mining facility
- An approved Reclamation Plan
Pursuant to SMARA §2772(a), any person who owns, lease or otherwise controls or operates on all, or any portion of any mined lands and who plans to conduct surface mining operations on the lands, must obtain an approved reclamation plan by the Lead Agency.
- An adequate Financial Assurance
Pursuant to SMARA §2773.1(a), Lead Agencies must require financial assurance for each surface mining operation to ensure reclamation is performed in accordance with the surface mining operation’s approved reclamation plan.
SMP and RP Discretionary Review Process
SMARA Program Compliance
Annually, each mining operator is required to demonstrate compliance with SMARA program requirements. To demonstrate compliance, operators are required to submit an Annual Compliance Report (ACR), receive an annual mine inspection, and submit an updated Financial Assurance Cost Estimate (FACE).
Mine inspections are conducted in conformance with SMARA Section 2774(b)- after the Department of Conservation receives the mining operation's Annual Mining Report (MRRC-2). County SMARA staff typically conduct mine inspections annually between August and October.
Mine operators must submit, to the Department of Conservation, an annual report (MRRC-2 form) in addition to the annual reporting fee required by the Department, pursuant to PRC Section 2207. A copy of the report form (MRRC-2) must be submitted to the County. Both the State and County must received the form by July 1st of each year. Mine operators must submit an Annual Compliance Report (ACR) to the County that demonstrates how permit conditions and SMARA requirements are met onsite. The ACR is also due July 1st of each year.
Forms and Links
- ACR Example Condition Compliance Section
- Operator Pre Inspection Check List
- SMGB Inspection Guidelines
SMARA §2773.1(a)(3) requires that the financial assurance for each mining operation be adjusted annually to account for new disturbance, inflation, and reclamation of lands accomplished in accordance with the site’s approved reclamation plan.
Section 3804 of the State Mining and Geology Board reclamation regulations (California Code of Regulations Title 14, §3804] states:
“The financial assurance amount shall be…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 costs…”
Financial Assurance documents must be verified annually, prior to expiration, but no later than December 1st of each year. You can now verify your FA using the SMARA e-Submit system. To submit your FA verification, please complete the FAM Verification Form and follow the directions for submittal located on the form.
Financial Assurance Cost Estimates (FACE)
NEW To comply with SMARA provision effective January 1, 2017, the County has revised the SMARAR FACE review process.
In order to meet the statutory requirements, mining operators are required to submit a Financial Assurance Cost Estimate (FACE), annually. The County requires all mine operators submit the FACE form within 30 days of the annual inspection.
SMARA program staff will review the submitted FACE and provided comments back to the Operator within 30 days. Operators have 10 days to respond to all the comments provided and prepare a revised FACE. If the operator fails to adequately address all the comments provided or new information is submitted that warrants additional comments, the County may provided additional comments. The operator will have a final 10 day period to revise the FACE and re-submit it to the County for acceptance. Within 60 days of submittal, SMARA program staff will forward the proposed FACE to DMR for, pursuant to SMARA §2773.1.
Forms and Links
- Estimating Worksheet - To use this resource you must first click on the link title, then select "save as" and save the Excel file to your computer's desktop. You can then open the file directly from your desktop.
- Example FACE
- FACE Form
- FACE Resources
Financial Assurance Mechanisms (FAM)
SMARA §2773.1 and Section 3800 of the State Mining and Geology Board reclamation 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
FAM's are payable to both the County and the Department of Conservation. Updated FAMs are required to be posted when the FACE is submitted.
Forms and Links
- What is needed for a FAM
- Annual FAM Verification Form
- Certificate of Deposit
- Payment Statements
- Irrevocable Letter of Credit
- General Purpose Rider
- Increase / Decrease Rider
- Surety Bond Check List
- Surety Bond Corporation
- Surety Bond Partnership
- Surety Bond Sole Proprietorship
Other SMARA Regulatory Agencies
- The Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR)
The State Mining and Geology Board oversees and provides technical assistance for mine reclamation to lead agencies like the County of Ventura. The DMR publishes a list of mines who are regulated by and in compliance with the requirements of SMARA. This list is generally referred to as the “AB 3098 List,” which is in reference to the 1992 legislation that established it. Sections 10295.5 and 20676 of the Public Contract Code preclude mining operations that are not on the AB 3098 List from selling sand, gravel, aggregates or other mined materials to State or local agencies.
- The State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB)
The State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) interpret and develop policies for SMARA. The SMGB also reviews all SMARA exemption requests and appeals. The SMGB may also act as a Lead Agency.
- The California Geological Survey
The California Geological Survey creates the guidelines for classification and designation of mining lands.
Forms and Links
- IMP Application
- Notification of Assumption of Legal and Operational AuthorityStatement of Responsibility (SOR)
- Statement of Responsibility (SOR)
Current Mining Operations
Pursuant to SMARA §2717 and PCC §10295.5 and 20679, the Department of Conservation publishes the “AB3098 list”, which lists all mining operations in compliance with SMARA. If an mining operation is not on the AB3098 list, no public agency can award a contract to purchase or utilize the mined materials from such mine.
The County Public Works Agency, requires that each contractor demonstrate that the mine from which the materials for the award contract will be utilized, is both on the AB3098 list and in full compliance with SMARA for the duration of the contract.
Ventura County Mining Operations List
- CEMEX Moorpark
- Cuyama Gypsum
- Grimes Rock, Inc.
- Mosler Rock/Ojai Quarry
- Tapo Canyon Mine
- Pacific Rock
- Rancho San Cristobal
- Sespe Creek
- Tapo Rock and Sand
- Ridgelite Mine
- Wayne J. Sand & Gravel