Bond Release Process
After mining is completed on any increment or identifiable unit of a mine, the mine operator may apply for a Phase I Bond Release. �This is the first of three phases in which the performance or reclamation bond monies are released to the operator. �Typically, this release is sought after all backfilling and grading has been completed on the increment or identifiable unit. �The backfilling and grading must be done to achieve approximate original contour (AOC) �The removal of all support facilities (unless otherwise approved in the permit) must be done prior to Phase I bond release. �These facilities include coal pads, office and maintenance areas and roads. The operator can get the maximum amount of bond release allowed under Phase I if, in addition to the above requirements, the topsoil has been replaced to the depth specified in the approved permit. �Permanent structures must be in place at this time. �Temporary structures that are needed for sediment control must be in place and maintained at the time of Phase I approval. �These temporary structures for sediment control must remain until the drainage area controlled by them has attained Phase II vegetation standards.
Phase I Mining Process
The second of the three phases in which the performance or reclamation bond monies are released to the operator is known as Phase II. �Typically this release is sought after re-vegetation standards have been met on an increment or identifiable unit of a mine. �Topsoil depths should be verified at this time if they were not verified during the Phase I bond release. �All permanent vegetation species, including grasses, trees and shrubs must have been planted on the site in accordance with the approved permit and land uses. �Success of the re-vegetation must be demonstrated by methods either described in the permit or by approved sampling procedures described by the Department. �At a minimum, the area to be released must not be contributing suspended solids or acid drainage to stream flow or runoff outside the permit area in excess of the standards set forth in the regulations. �The Department will re-calculate the required bond to remain posted and release the bond monies exceeding this amount.
�Phase II Mining Process
The third and final of the three phases in which the performance or reclamation bond monies are released to the operator is known as Phase III. �Typically this release is sought after the fifth full year of bond liability has passed. �This can be achieve five years after the last augmented seeding of an increment or identifiable unit of a mine. Since this is the final release of liability on an area, all post-mining land uses must match those specified in the approved permit and meet all requirements of the regulations. �Re-vegetation success must be demonstrated in a similar manner as Phase II. �In addition to ground cover, productivity must be demonstrated according to the approved post-mining land use. �All temporary structures must be removed before Phase III. �Permanent structures must be stable and water impoundments must hold a stable water level. �Discharges from approved impoundments shall not degrade the quality of receiving waters. �After all criteria for Phase III is met, all bond monies are released and the land is returned to control of the landowner.
Phase III Mining Process