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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 24-355



Bond Rate Guidelines for the Calculation of Land Reclamation Bonds on Noncoal Mining Operations

[54 Pa.B. 1427]
[Saturday, March 16, 2024]

 The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) announces the bond schedule for noncoal mining operations. The authority for bonding noncoal mining operations is found under The Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. §§ 691.1—691.1001), the Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (52 P.S. §§ 3301—3326) and the regulations promulgated thereunder at 25 Pa. Code Chapter 77, Subchapter D (relating to bonding and insurance requirements). The rates listed in this schedule will be used in calculating the bonds for surface noncoal mining operations including surface mines and facilities and the surface facilities associated with underground mining operations. Other activities, including special revegetation plans, wetland mitigation or stream channel restoration, will be estimated on a case-by-case basis.

 Under 25 Pa. Code § 77.202 (relating to determination of bond amount), the Department is providing notice of the bond schedule for noncoal surface mine sites.

 The bond schedule reflects the requirement that the amount of bond shall be the estimated cost to the Department if it had to complete the reclamation, restoration and abatement work under the Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act. The rates will become effective upon publication and will remain in effect until they are revised through a subsequent notice.

 The bond rate schedules are available at www.dep. Bonding/Pages/default.aspx. For background information and supporting documentation regarding bonding rate schedules, contact the Bureau of Mining Programs, Division of Permitting and Compliance, P.O. Box 8461, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8461, (717) 787-5103.

General Methodology

 The basic approach to bonding large noncoal sites is to apply a flat per-acre rate (to cover minor grading and revegetation) and supplement that with bond to account for spoil storage, backfilling, highwall blasting, demolition or other site-specific costs. For mine sites where consolidated material is mined below the water table, the reclamation bond calculation must account for reclamation slopes to a depth of 50 feet below the anticipated postmining water level.

 For sites that can be mined in lateral phases, the operator can choose to bond the permit area in phases. The operator must identify the portion of the permit area on which mining and reclamation activities will occur within the phase. The Department will calculate the bond liability based on the maximum portion of the permitted area that the permittee is authorized to disturb at any specific time. This area is described in the permittee's mining and reclamation plans and must include all the land affected by mining activities that is not planted, growing and stabilized.

Per-Acre Rates—Applicable to Disturbed (Not Reclaimed) Area

 $3,500 per acre for mining area (This rate includes select grading and revegetation.)

 $1,830 per acre for support areas (This rate includes revegetation.)

Spoil Storage/Earthmoving

 The rate of $1.05 (cost per cubic yard) for grading applies to spoil stored or other additional earthmoving (for example, backfilling for contour mines, subsoil replacement where more than 12 inches of soil is needed to meet post-mining land use or topsoil placement).

Blasting to Achieve the Reclamation Slope

 The following rates apply to highwalls where blasting is necessary to achieve the final slope. Blaster's estimates may be used instead of these rates.

Table 1

Highwall/Bench Height (Feet) Cost per
Linear Foot of Highwall/Bench

Up to 20$10
  21 up to 30  $20
31 up to 40$40
41 up to 50$55

Mine Sealing

 Mine sealing costs should be calculated using the Bond Rate Schedule in Table 2.

Table 2

Mine Sealing Bond Rate Schedule1

Sealing Underground Mine Drift and Slope Openings
Unit Operation  Unit Measure Unit Costs ($)
Concrete Work Cubic Yard 114.00
Masonry Work Square Foot   16.50
 Fill Material and Earthwork Cubic Yard   19.00
Security FencingLineal Foot   32.50
Mobilization Cost Job 4% of Total Amount
Sealing Underground Mine Shaft Openings
Unit Operation  Unit Measure Unit Costs ($)
Concrete Material Cubic Yard 110.00
Aggregate Material Cubic Yard  32.50
Fill Material and Earthwork  Cubic Yard   8.50
Security Fencing Lineal Foot  32.50
Mobilization Cost Job 4% of Total Amount
Sealing Boreholes at Underground Mines
Dimension Minimum Cost Per
Hole ($)
Unit Cost ($)
Per Lineal Foot
12-Inch or Less Diameter 6.50
Larger than 12-Inch Diameter  2,450 9.00
Mobilization Cost Job 4% of Total Amount

1 Mine sealing costs are minimum costs. Additional costs per mine seal will be assessed based on specific design criteria, such as the thickness of the seal and the volume of backfill material required, using appropriate material, equipment and labor costs from Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation bid abstracts or from an industry-standard cost estimation publication, for example, Means Estimating Handbook or Walker's Building Estimator's Reference Book.

Other Items

 A flat rate of $3,800 will be used for each pond requiring reclamation. This rate includes dewatering, grading, topsoil replacement and revegetation.

 Large equipment tires remaining at a site will be bonded at $300 per tire.

 Available cost information will be used in the event that a unit operation necessary to calculate a reclamation bond is not listed in the schedule. If enough data is not available, the rate will be set from a standard reference like Means Building Construction Cost Data or Walker's Building Estimator's Reference Book.

 Demolition costs for structures that are not compatible with the post-mining land use will be calculated using these references. Structures that have reasonable post-mining uses do not require bonding.


 Add 4% of the amount, up to $40,000, for mobilization costs.

Large Noncoal—Unconsolidated Material

 Mining of unconsolidated material includes sites where the mining is above and below groundwater. The cost of reclamation for these two types of mining include selective grading to achieve the reclamation slopes and the safety bench around the water impoundment to meet the requirements of 25 Pa. Code § 77.594 (relating to final slopes).

 The cost to grade the highwall to the approved reclamation slope above the groundwater table will be calculated based on the area of the highwall (determined by the length of highwall to be reclaimed multiplied by the horizontal width of the reclamation slope) to be reclaimed and the height of the highwall. The Department will use the following rates for bonding permits mining unconsolidated material:

 ◦ $1,700 per acre for mining up to 35 feet

 ◦ $2,400 per acre for 36 to 65 feet

 ◦ $5,000 per acre over 65 feet

 The cost to establish the safety bench on water impoundments will be calculated based on the area around the perimeter of the impoundment multiplied by the width of the safety bench. The Department will use $1,700 per acre for bonding the safety bench.

 The Department will use the Bond Rate Schedule for spoil, storage and earthmoving (cost per cubic yard) for sites that will use unmarketable material to achieve the reclamation contours on unconsolidated material mine sites.

Small Noncoal Sites

Category 1: Small Noncoal Permits—Affected Area is 1 Acre or Less

 For all small noncoal permits with 1 acre or less affected at any time, the bond amount is $1,500 (one acre affected) and an additional $2,500 for mobilization/demobilization, for a total of $4,000. These permits meet the 25 Pa. Code § 77.108(e)(4) (relating to permit for small noncoal operations), standard for concurrent reclamation with no more than 1 acre affected at any time.

Category 2: Small Noncoal Permits with Greater than 1 Acre Affected—Consolidated Material

 For small noncoal permits with greater than 1 acre affected at any time, the following rates* apply:

 ◦ $1,830 per acre for support

 ◦ $3,000 per acre for mining up to 35 feet total depth

 ◦ $4,000 per acre for 36 to 65 feet total depth

 ◦ $5,000 per acre over 65 feet total depth

 An additional $2,500 for mobilization/demobilization must be included.

 *These rates assume the highwalls will be blasted for reclamation. Costs for backfilling may be applicable to some sites for which the ''Spoil Storage/Earthmoving'' rate for noncoal operations will apply.

Category 3: Small Noncoal Permits with Greater than 1 Acre Affected—Unconsolidated Material

 For sand and gravel pits and topsoil mines where the operator has received Department approval for mineral extraction over 1 acre, as specified in 25 Pa. Code § 77.108(e)(4), a flat rate of $3,500 per acre should be used.

 Category 1 and 2 rates apply to the General Permit for Bluestone (GP-105). Acreage to be rounded up to the nearest whole acre for all calculations.

Effective Date: This schedule will become effective upon publication.

Interim Acting Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 24-355. Filed for public inspection March 15, 2024, 9:00 a.m.]

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