OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

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For More Information:

Moshay Simpson
Office of Communications Chief
msimpson@osmre.gov
(202) 208-2565

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Glossary

Commonly used terms by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

The definitions contained below are for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and statutes.

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Abandoned Mine - The term abandoned mine means a mine where mining operations have occurred in the past and (1) The applicable reclamation bond or financial assurance has been released or forfeited or (2) If no reclamation bond or other financial assurance has been posted, no mining operations have occurred for five years or more. "

Abandoned Mine Land Inventory - A national system for recording health and safety and environmental impacts associated with abandoned coal mines. It also contains limited information on non-coal mine related problems. The Inventory contains information on the location, type, and extent of AML impacts, as well as information on the cost associated with the reclamation of those problems. The Inventory is based upon field surveys by State, Tribe, and OSM program officials, and is dynamic to the extent that it is modified as new problems are identified and existing problems are reclaimed. The AML Inventory consists of the information collected about AML impacts, the guidance documents for managing the information, and the eAMLIS computerized database.

Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (e-AMLIS) - A computerized database containing the AML Inventory information. e-AMLIS stores data and related information and provides information (reports, maps, data files) showing the status of unfunded, funded, and completed Priority 1 and 2 AML problems for pre-SMCRA coal State grant reclamation programs, the FRP, and the USDA/NRCS RAMP. In addition, e-AMLIS contains unfunded, funded and completed problems for the following programs/priorities: State grant reclamation of Priority 3 problems, post-SMCRA interim coal sites and insolvent surety coal sites, and non-coal sites. e-AMLIS contains information on completed problems for Priority 4 (facilities), and Priority 5 (earlier projects for the development of public lands), AMD-Set-Aside sites, and State and Federal Emergency Programs. It also contains limited information on remining and reclamation accomplished through other means, such as private citizens. It also contains completed information on accomplishments by Certified States and Tribes using 411(h)(1) and (h)(2) funding to maintain certification, address non-coal hazards, conduct projects to address the impacts of mineral development, and for nonmining related purposes.

Acid drainage, also known as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) - Water with a pH of less than 6.0 and in which total acidity exceeds total alkalinity, discharged from an active, inactive or abandoned surface coal mine and reclamation operation or from an area affected by surface coal mining and reclamation operations.

Acid-Forming Materials - Earth materials that contain sulfide minerals or other materials which, if exposed to air, water, or weathering processes, form acids that may create acid drainage.

Act - The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (Pub. L. 95-87).

Active Treatment Systems - Systems that require periodic or continual maintenance or upkeep to maintain system effectiveness. Examples include treatment plants and alkaline chemical addition.

Adit - A nearly horizontal passage from the surface by which a mine is entered and drained.

Adjacent Area - The area outside the permit area where a resource or resources, determined according to the context in which adjacent area is used, are or reasonably could be expected to be adversely impacted by proposed mining operations, including probable impacts from underground workings.

Administratively Complete Application - An application for permit approval or approval for coal exploration where required, which the regulatory authority determines to contain information addressing each application requirement of the regulatory program and to contain all information necessary to initiate processing and public review.

Aerobic - In the presence of oxygen. Aerobic wetlands are those in which oxidizing processes dominate.

Agricultural Activities - With respect to alluvial valley floors, the use of any tract of land for the production of animal or vegetable life, based on regional agricultural practices, where the use is enhanced or facilitated by subirrigation or flood irrigation. These uses include, but are not limited to, farming and the pasturing or grazing of livestock. These uses do not include agricultural activities which have no relationship to the availability of water from subirrigation or flood irrigation practices.

Agricultural Use - The use of any tract of land for the production of animal or vegetable life. The uses include, but are not limited to, the pasturing, grazing, and watering of livestock, and the cropping, cultivation, and harvesting of plants.

Alkalinity - The capacity of water to accept protons (acidity). Alkalinity is imparted to natural waters by bicarbonate, carbonate, or hydroxide anions.

Alkalinity Producing Systems - A type of passive treatment system designed to produce neutral effluent with excess alkalinity. Typically these alkalinity producing systems combine anoxic limestone drains with anaerobic wetlands.

Alluvial Valley Floors - The unconsolidated stream-laid deposits holding streams with water availability sufficient for subirrigation or flood irrigation agricultural activities but does not include upland areas which are generally overlain by a thin veneer of colluvial deposits composed chiefly of debris from sheet erosion, deposits formed by unconcentrated runoff or slope wash, together with talus, or other mass-movement accumulations, and windblown deposits.

Anaerobic - In the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic wetlands are those in which reducing processes dominate.

Anfo - A free running explosive used in mine blasting made of 94% prilled aluminum nitrate and 6% No. 3 fuel oil.

Anionic Species - Ions with a negative charge.

Anode - The negative electrode.

Anoxic - In the absence of oxygen.

Anoxic Limestone Drain - A type of passive treatment system consisting of a trench of buried limestone into which acid water is diverted. Dissolution of limestone increases pH and alkalinity.

Anthracite - Coal which is commonly called “hard coal” and contains a high percent of carbon. Anthracite is mined mostly in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Appalachian Region Reforestation Initiative - The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) was created in 2004 by the Office of Surface Mining and the seven state regulatory authorities in Appalachia to reestablish healthy, productive forest habitat on active and abandoned mine lands in the eastern coal fields. ARRI’s goals are to plant more high-value hardwood trees on surface mines, increase the survival rates and growth rates of those trees, and to expedite the establishment of forest habitat through natural succession. To promote proper mine land reforestation on active mine sites, ARRI advocates using a set of best management practices called the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA). Modified versions of the FRA is applied to mine sites reclaimed under SMCRA but without the benefits of reforestation (legacy mines) and mine sites created prior to SMCRA (abandoned mine lands).

Applicant - Any person seeking a permit, permit revision, renewal, and transfer, assignment, or sale of permit rights from a regulatory authority to conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations or, where required, seeking approval for coal exploration.

Applicant/Violator System or AVS - An automated information system of applicant, permittee, operator, violation and related data OSM maintains to assist in implementing the Act.

Application - The documents and other information filed with the regulatory authority under this chapter for the issuance of permits; revisions; renewals; and transfer, assignment, or sale of permit rights for surface coal mining and reclamation operations or, where required, for coal exploration.

Approximate Original Contour - A surface configuration achieved by backfilling and grading of the mined areas so that the reclaimed area, including any terracing or access roads, closely resembles the general surface configuration of the land prior to mining and blends into and complements the drainage pattern of the surrounding terrain, with all highwalls, spoil piles and coal refuse piles eliminated.

Aquifer - A zone, stratum, or group of strata that can store and transmit water in sufficient quantities for a specific use.

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) - See AMD.

Arid and Semiarid Area - In the context of alluvial valley floors, an area of the interior western United States, west of the 100th meridian west longitude, experiencing water deficits, where water use by native vegetation equals or exceeds that supplied by precipitation. All coalfields located in North Dakota west of the 100th meridian west longitude, all coalfields in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, the Eagle Pass field in Texas, and the Stone Canyon and the Ione fields in California are in arid and semiarid areas.

Auger Mining - A method of mining coal at a cliff or highwall by drilling holes into an exposed coal seam from the highwall and transporting the coal along an auger bit to the surface.

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Best Technology Currently Available - Equipment, devices, systems, methods, or techniques which will (a) prevent, to the extent possible, additional contributions of suspended solids to stream flow or runoff outside the permit area, but in no event result in contributions of suspended solids in excess of requirements set by applicable State or Federal laws; and (b) minimize, to the extent possible, disturbances and adverse impacts on fish, wildlife and related environmental values, and achieve enhancement of those resources where practicable. The term includes equipment, devices, systems, methods, or techniques which are currently available anywhere as determined by the Director, even if they are not in routine use. The term includes, but is not limited to, construction practices, siting requirements, vegetative selection and planting requirements, animal stocking requirements, scheduling of activities and design of sedimentation ponds in accordance with 30 CFR parts 816 and 817. Within the constraints of the permanent program, the regulatory authority shall have the discretion to determine the best technology currently available on a case-by-case basis, as authorized by the Act and this chapter."

Bioreactor - An engineered container filled with untreated waters and organic matter such as hay or manure which provides sulfate-reducing bacteria and a carbon source to sustain the bacteria.

Bituminous - Coal which is commonly called “soft coal,” is high in carbon, and ranked between anthracite and lignite. Bituminous coal is most abundant in the Eastern states.

Biological Assessment - Biological assessment refers to the information prepared by or under the direction of the Federal agency concerning listed and proposed species and designated and proposed critical habitat that may be present in the action area and the evaluation potential effects of the action on such species and habitat.

Biological Opinion - Biological opinion is the document that states the opinion of the Service as to whether or not the Federal action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

Biological Treatment System - Passive aquatic systems constructed to treat pollutants (e.g., iron, manganese, aluminum, sulfates) and/to buffer receiving streams and water bodies fran the toxic impacts of mine discharges on aquatic biota.

Boiler Slag - Larger particles of coal ash that have settled to the bottom of the boiler and have completely melted. A vitreous material which is normally the major portion of residues produced at the bottom of cyclone boilers. Since slag has been fused, there is very little chemical activity and leachate is not normally contaminated.

Bond Release - The term “bond release” means the time at which the appropriate regulatory authority returns a reclamation or performance bond based upon its determination that reclamation work (including, in the case of underground mines, mine sealing and abandonment procedures) has been satisfactorily completed.

Borrow Material - Soil and rock fill that was dug from a nearby pit to furnish fill or soil cover for an earth-moving project.

Bottom Ash - The coarse, solid, non-combustible particulate matter that results from the combustion of ground or powdered coal and falls to the bottom of the boiler, but have not melted. Bottom ash has a similar chemical composition to fly ash but is produced in gradations ranging from fine sand to small aggregate (3/8"). Bottom ash is typically grey to black in color, angular, and has a porous surface texture. Bottom ash is usually a small portion of the total ash produced by the boiler. It may be vitrified or clinkered, but is friable. It will often show metals in the leachate and may tend to be acid producing.

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Cathode - The positive electrode.

Cation Exchange - A reversible exchange process, that uses a resin, mineral or other exchange medium, in which one cation is removed from solution and replaced by another cation displaced from the exchange medium without destruction of the exchange medium or disturbance of electrical neutrality. The process is accomplished by diffusion.

Cationic Species - Ions with a positive charge.

Cessation Order - Order to cease mining issued to a coal operator by the regulatory authority due to severity of violations.

Classification - Separation of particles in accordance with their rate of fall through a fluid (usually water). The hydrocyclone is the most commonly used classification machine.

Coal - Combustible carbonaceous rock, classified as anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, or lignite by ASTM Standard D 388-77.

Coal Combustion By-Products (CCB) - A collective term referring to any large volume material or residue produced from the combustion of coal or cleaning of stack gases regardless of ultimate commercial application or disposal. Specifically, it includes fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, fluidized bed combustion ash, and flue gas desulfurization material.

Coal Combustion Products (CCP) - A collective term for materials or residues produced from the combustion of coal or cleaning of stack gases for which there is a commercial market and are reprocessed, sold, or stored for commercial use.

Coal Combustion Residues (CCRs) - Any materials or residues produced from the combustion of coal. Also sometimes referred to as Coal Ash, Coal Combustion Ash, Coal Combustion Material.

Coal Combustion Wastes (CCW) - A collective term for materials or residues produced from the combustion of coal or cleaning of stack gases for which there are no commercial markets and they are disposed of as a solid waste.

Coal Exploration - The field gathering of: (a) surface or subsurface geologic, physical, or chemical data by mapping, trenching, drilling, geophysical, or other techniques necessary to determine the quality and quantity of overburden and coal of an area; or (b) the gathering of environmental data to establish the conditions of an area before beginning surface coal mining and reclamation operations under the requirements of this chapter."

Coal Mine Waste - Coal processing waste and underground development waste.

Coal Preparation - Chemical or physical processing and the cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation of coal.

Coal Preparation Plant - A facility where coal is subjected to chemical or physical processing or cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation. It includes facilities associated with coal preparation activities, including, but not limited to the following: loading facilities; storage and stockpile facilities; sheds; shops, and other buildings; water-treatment and water-storage facilities; settling basins and impoundments; and coal processing and other waste disposal areas.

Coal Processing Waste - Earth materials which are separated and wasted from the product coal during cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation of coal.

Combustible Material - Organic material that is capable of burning, either by fire or through oxidation, accompanied by the evolution of heat and a significant temperature rise.

Comminution - Crushing and/or grinding of ore by impact and abrasion. Usually, the word "crushing" is used for dry methods and "grinding" for wet methods. Also, "crushing" usually denotes reducing the size of coarse rock while "grinding" usually refers to the reduction of the fine sizes.

Compaction - Increasing the density of a material by reducing the voids between the particles and is generally accomplished by controlled placement and mechanical effort such as from repeated application of wheel, track, or roller loads from heavy equipment.

Complete and Accurate Application - An application for permit approval or approval for coal exploration where required, which the regulatory authority determines to contain all information required under the Act, this subchapter, and the regulatory program that is necessary to make a decision on permit issuance.

Contemporaneous Reclamation - Reclamation efforts, including but not limited to backfilling, grading, topsoil replacement, and revegetation, on all land that is disturbed by surface mining activities shall occur as contemporaneously as practicable with mining operations.

Contour Mining - A mining method commonly used in eastern mountainous topography where coal is removed in a narrow strip around the hillside. The extent of the cut into the hillside is determined by the depth of overburden at the highwall compared with the thickness of the coal seam.

Control or Controller - Refers to or means— (a) A permittee of a surface coal mining operation; (b) An operator of a surface coal mining operation; or (c) Any person who has the ability to determine the manner in which a surface coal mining operation is conducted.

Cropland - Land used for the production of adapted crops for harvest, alone or in a rotation with grasses and legumes, and includes row crops, small grain crops, hay crops, nursery crops, orchard crops, and other similar specialty crops.

Cumulative Impact Area - The area, including the permit area, within which impacts resulting from the proposed operation may interact with the impacts of all anticipated mining on surface- and ground-water systems. Anticipated mining shall include, at a minimum, the entire projected lives through bond releases of: (a) The proposed operation, (b) all existing operations, (c) any operation for which a permit application has been submitted to the regulatory authority, and (d) all operations required to meet diligent development requirements for leased Federal coal for which there is actual mine development information available.

Cyclone (Hydrocyclone) - A classifying (or concentrating) separation machine into which pulp is fed so as to take a circular path. Coarser and heavier fractions of solids report at the apex of a long cone while the finer particles overflow from the vortex.
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Department - The Department of the Interior.

Director - The Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, or the Director's representative.

Disturbed Area - An area where vegetation, topsoil, or overburden is removed or upon which topsoil, spoil, coal processing waste, underground development waste, or non-coal waste is placed by surface coal mining operations.

Diversion - A channel, embankment, or other manmade structure constructed to divert water from one area to another.

Downslope - The land surface between the projected outcrop of the lowest coalbed being mined along each highwall and a valley floor.

Drift - A horizontal mining passage underground. A drift usually follows the ore vein, as distinguished from a crosscut, which intersects it.

Drinking, Domestic or Residential Water Supply - Water received from a well or spring and any appurtenant delivery system that provides water for direct human consumption or household use. Wells and springs that serve only agricultural, commercial or industrial enterprises are not included except to the extent the water supply is for direct human consumption or human sanitation, or domestic use.

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Eh - The redox or oxidation potential. A measure of the ability of a natural environment to bring about any oxidation or reduction process by supplying electrons to an oxidizing agent or accepting electrons from a reducing agent.

Embankment - An artificial deposit of material that is raised above the natural surface of the land and used to contain, divert, or store water, support roads or railways, or for other similar purposes.

Entry - An underground passage used for haulage, ventilation or a manway (coal mining).

Ephemeral Stream - A stream which flows only in direct response to precipitation in the immediate watershed or in response to the melting of a cover of snow and ice, and which has a channel bottom that is always above the local water table.

Essential Hydrologic Functions - The role of an alluvial valley floor in collecting, storing, regulating, and making the natural flow of surface or ground water, or both, usefully available for agricultural activities by reason of the valley floor's topographic position, the landscape, and the physical properties of its underlying materials. A combination of these functions provides a water supply during extended periods of low precipitation.

Excess Spoil - Spoil material disposed of in a location other than the mined-out area.

Existing Structure - A structure or facility used in connection with or to facilitate surface coal mining and reclamation operations for which construction begins prior to the approval of a State program or implementation of a Federal program or Federal lands program, whichever occurs first.

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Farming - With respect to alluvial valley floors, the primary use of those areas for the cultivation, cropping or harvesting of plants which benefit from irrigation, or natural subirrigation, that results from the increased moisture content in the alluvium of the valley floors. For purposes of this definition, harvesting does not include the grazing of livestock.

Federal Lands Program - A program established by the Secretary pursuant to section 523 of the Act to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation operations on Federal lands.

Federal Lands - Any land, including mineral interests, owned by the United States, without regard to how the United States acquired ownership of the lands or which agency manages the lands. It does not include Indian lands. However, lands or mineral interests east of the 100th meridian west longitude owned by the United States and entrusted to or managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority are not subject to sections 714 (surface owner protection) and 715 (Federal lessee protection) of the Act.

Federal Program - A program established by the Secretary pursuant to section 504 of the Act to regulate coal exploration and surface coal mining and reclamation operations on non-Federal and non-Indian lands within a State in accordance with the Act and this chapter.

  1. Complete Federal program means a program established by the Secretary pursuant to section 504 of the Act before June 3, 1980, or upon the complete withdrawal of a State program after June 3, 1980, by which the Director regulates all coal exploration and surface coal mining and reclamation operations.
  2. Partial Federal program means a program established by the Secretary pursuant to sections 102, 201 and 504 of the Act upon the partial withdrawal of a State program, by which the Director may regulate appropriate portions of coal exploration and surface coal mining and reclamation operations.

Ferric Iron - Iron present in its oxidized state, with an ionic charge of +3.

Ferrous Iron - Iron present in its reduced state, with an ionic charge of +2.

Fill - A permanent, non-impounding structure constructed for the purpose of disposing of excess spoil or coal mine waste generated by surface coal mining operations or underground mining activities.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat - Land dedicated wholly or partially to the production, protection, or management of species of fish or wildlife.

Flood Irrigation - With respect to alluvial valley floors, supplying water to plants by natural overflow or the diversion of flows, so that the irrigated surface is largely covered by a sheet of water.

Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) Material - The solid stabilized by-product material that results from the flue gas desulfurization scrubber system also referred to as scrubber sludge. It is produced when the stack gases are sent through pulverized limestone to remove sulfur dioxide. The resulting material consists of calcium sulfate/sulfite and is commonly combined with fly ash to dry and stabilize the material. Usually a thixotropic material unless stabilized with fly ash or other dry materials. Some utilities produce an "oxidized" material which is primarily calcium sulfate or synthetic gypsum. The scrubber sludge may be dry, but is commonly delivered as filter cake. It is normally high in calcium sulfites and sulfates. The filter cake may be very difficult to remove from dump trucks or hopper cars. Filter cake is not difficult to handle after dumping, but is soft and usually to wet to compact.

Fluidized Bed Combustion (FBC) Ash - A fly ash or spent sorbent from the flue gas produced from the combustion of coal in a fluidized bed combustion boiler. It resembles conventional fly ash, but contains spent sorbent and is produced at lower temperatures. It is normally highly alkaline. The high alkalinity tends to minimize metals in the leachate. Unconditioned FBC fly ash will usually contain considerable dust, much of which may have a particle size under 10 microns.

Fluvial - Of or pertaining to rivers.

Flux - A component intentionally added to high temperature processing to modify properties (e.g., melting point, viscosity, chemical properties) of the slag.

Fly Ash - The finely divided residue that results from the combustion of ground or powdered coal and is removed from the stack gases with various types of air quality control equipment. Fly ash is a pozzolan: a siliceous material which, in the presence of water, will chemically combine with lime (calcium oxide) to produce a cementitious material with excellent structural properties. Some fly ashes contain sufficient calcium compounds to be self- hardening, while others require the addition of calcium (usually in the form of cement or lime) to harden. There are two main types of fly ash: Class F (low lime) and Class C (high lime). Class F fly ash is typically associated with eastern and midwestern U.S. coals and Class C is associated with western U.S. coals. High quality conventional fly ash will contain very little sulfate compounds or unburned carbon.

Forestry Reclamation Approach - A scientifically based method of reclaiming surface coal mines to increase tree survival and growth and to expedite the establishment of forest habitat through natural succession. The five steps of the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) are: (1) Create a suitable rooting medium for good tree growth at least four feet deep and comprised of topsoil and/or the best available material; (2) Loosely grade the topsoil or topsoil substitutes established in step one to create a non-compacted soil growth medium; (3) Use less competitive ground covers that are compatible with growing trees; (4) Plant two types of trees – early successional species for wildlife and soil stability, and commercially valuable crop trees; and, 5) Use proper tree planting techniques. The Forestry Reclamation Approach was developed by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative’s Science Team and is a routine and widespread methodology used on active mine sites, legacy mine sites and abandoned mine lands to restore the ecological services of the pre-mining forests.

Fossil Fuel Combustion (FFC) Waste Streams - A collective term utilized by EPA for materials or residues produced from the combustion of coal or cleaning of stack gases.

Fugitive Dust - Particulate matter not emitted from a duct or stack which becomes airborne due to the forces of wind or surface coal mining and reclamation operations or both. During surface coal mining and reclamation operations it may include emissions from haul roads; wind erosion of exposed surfaces, storage piles, and spoil piles; reclamation operations; and other activities in which material is either removed, stored, transported, or redistributed.

Fund - Fund means the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund established on the books of the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of accumulating revenues designated for reclamation of abandoned mine lands and other activities authorized by section 401 of SMCRA.

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Gob - A pile of loose waste, coal and other minerals extracted from a mine that are not marketable. Gob may be left piled in underground workings or at the surface of the mine.

Grading - The process of smoothing the disturbed areas of the mine site, after the coal is removed, to closely approximate the pre-mining terrain.

Gravity Discharge - With respect to underground mining activities, mine drainage that flows freely in an open channel downgradient. Mine drainage that occurs as a result of flooding a mine to the level of the discharge is not gravity discharge.

Gravity Separation - Exploitation of differences in the densities of particles to achieve separation. Machines utilizing gravity separation include jigs and shaking tables.

Ground Cover - The area of ground covered by the combined aerial parts of vegetation and the litter that is produced naturally onsite, expressed as a percentage of the total area of measurement.

Ground Water - Subsurface water that fills available openings in rock or soil materials to the extent that they are considered water saturated.

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Half-Shrub - A perennial plant with a woody base whose annually produced stems die back each year.

Head-of-Hollow Fill - A fill structure consisting of any material, other than organic material, placed in the uppermost reaches of a hollow where side slopes of the existing hollow, measured at the steepest point, are greater than 20 degrees or the average slope of the profile of the hollow from the toe of the fill to the top of the fill is greater than 10 degrees. In head-of-hollow fills the top surface of the fill, when completed, is at approximately the same elevation as the adjacent ridge line, and no significant area of natural drainage occurs above the fill draining into the fill area.

Higher or Better Uses - Postmining land uses that have a higher economic value or nonmonetary benefit to the landowner or the community than the premining land uses.

Highwall - The face of exposed overburden and coal in an open cut of a surface coal mining activity or for entry to underground mining activities.

Highwall Remnant - A portion of highwall that remains after backfilling and grading of a remining permit area.

Hydrologic Balance - The relationship between the quality and quantity of water inflow to, water outflow from, and water storage in a hydrologic unit such as a drainage basin, aquifer, soil zone, lake, or reservoir. It encompasses the dynamic relationships among precipitation, runoff, evaporation, and changes in ground and surface water storage.

Hydrologic Regime - The entire state of water movement in a given area. It is a function of the climate and includes the phenomena by which water first occurs as atmospheric water vapor, passes into a liquid or solid form, falls as precipitation, moves along or into the ground surface, and returns to the atmosphere as vapor by means of evaporation and transpiration.

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Imminent Danger to the Health and Safety of the Public - The existence of any condition or practice, or any violation of a permit or other requirements of the Act in a surface coal mining and reclamation operation, which could reasonably be expected to cause substantial physical harm to persons outside the permit area before the condition, practice, or violation can be abated. A reasonable expectation of death or serious injury before abatement exists if a rational person, subjected to the same condition or practice giving rise to the peril, would avoid exposure to the danger during the time necessary for abatement.

Impounding Structure - A dam, embankment or other structure used to impound water, slurry, or other liquid or semi-liquid material.

Impoundments - All water, sediment, slurry or other liquid or semi-liquid holding structures and depressions, either naturally formed or artificially built.

In Situ Processes - Activities conducted on the surface or underground in connection with in-place distillation, retorting, leaching, or other chemical or physical processing of coal. The term includes, but is not limited to, in situ gasification, in situ leaching, slurry mining, solution mining, borehole mining, and fluid recovery mining.

Indian Lands - All lands, including mineral interests, within the exterior boundaries of any Federal Indian reservation, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and including rights-of-way, and all lands including mineral interests held in trust for or supervised by an Indian tribe.

Indian Tribe - Any Indian tribe, band, group, or community having a governing body recognized by the Secretary.

Intermittent Stream - (a) A stream or reach of a stream that drains a watershed of at least one square mile, or (b) A stream or reach of a stream that is below the local water table for at least some part of the year, and obtains its flow from both surface runoff and ground water discharge.

Ion - An atom, group of atoms, or molecule that has acquired a net electric charge by gaining or losing electrons from an initially electrically neutral configuration.

Iron Hydroxide - A chemical compound composed of iron cation and a hydroxide (oxygen plus hydrogen) anion, with the chemical formula Fe(OH)3. It is a common precipitate in acidic environments, with a yellowish, orangish or reddish coloration.

Irreparable Damage to the Environment - Any damage to the environment, in violation of the Act, the regulatory program, or this chapter, that cannot be corrected by actions of the applicant.

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Knowing or Knowingly – Means that a person who authorized, ordered, or carried out an act or omission knew or had reason to know that the act or omission would result in either a violation or a failure to abate or correct a violation.

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Lands Historically Used for Cropland -

  1. Lands that have been used for cropland for any 5 years or more out of the 10 years immediately preceding the acquisition, including purchase, lease, or option, of the land for the purpose of conducting or allowing through resale, lease or option the conduct of surface coal mining and reclamation operations; 
  2. Lands that the regulatory authority determines, on the basis of additional cropland history of the surrounding lands and the lands under consideration, that the permit area is clearly cropland but falls outside the specific 5-years-in-10 criterion, in which case the regulations for prime farmland may be applied to include more years of cropland history only to increase the prime farmland acreage to be preserved; or
  3. Lands that would likely have been used as cropland for any 5 out of the last 10 years, immediately preceding such acquisition but for the same fact of ownership or control of the land unrelated to the productivity of the land.

Land Use - Specific uses or management-related activities, rather than the vegetation or cover of the land. Land uses may be identified in combination when joint or seasonal uses occur and may include land used for support facilities that are an integral part of the use. Changes of land use from one of the following categories to another shall be considered as a change to an alternative land use which is subject to approval by the regulatory authority.

  1. Cropland. Land used for the production of adapted crops for harvest, alone or in rotation with grasses and legumes, that include row crops, small grain crops, hay crops, nursery crops, orchard crops, and other similar crops.
  2. Pastureland or land occasionally cut for hay. Land used primarily for the long-term production of adapted, domesticated forage plants to be grazed by livestock or occasionally cut and cured for livestock feed.
  3. Grazingland. Land used for grasslands and forest lands where the indigenous vegetation is actively managed for grazing, browsing, or occasional hay production.
  4. Forestry. Land used or managed for the long-term production of wood, wood fiber, or wood-derived products.
  5. Residential. Land used for single-and multiple-family housing, mobile home parks, or other residential lodgings.
  6. Industrial/Commercial. Land used for—
    1. Extraction or transformation of materials for fabrication of products, wholesaling of products, or long-term storage of products. This includes all heavy and light manufacturing facilities.
    2. Retail or trade of goods or services, including hotels, motels, stores, restaurants, and other commercial establishments.
  7. Recreation. Land used for public or private leisure-time activities, including developed recreation facilities such as parks, camps, and amusement areas, as well as areas for less intensive uses such as hiking, canoeing, and other undeveloped recreational uses.
  8. Fish and wildlife habitat. Land dedicated wholly or partially to the production, protection, or management of species of fish or wildlife.
  9. Developed water resources. Land used for storing water for beneficial uses, such as stockponds, irrigation, fire protection, flood control, and water supply.
  10. Undeveloped land or no current use or land management. Land that is undeveloped or, if previously developed, land that has been allowed to return naturally to an undeveloped state or has been allowed to return to forest through natural succession.

Lands Eligible for Remining - Those lands that would otherwise be eligible for expenditures under section 404 or under section 402(g)(4) of the Act.

Landslide - Unconsolidated material that becomes unstable due to overloading or water saturation and slides down-slope.

Layered Base Amendments - Alkaline (base) materials that are interlayered with acid generating materials in order to provide a measure of neutralizing capacity.

Lignite - Consolidated lignitic coal having less than 8,300 British thermal units per pound, moist and mineral matter free. Commonly found in Western states.

Limestone - A sedimentary rock formed by chemical precipitation from seawater or fresh water that is composed primarily of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate).

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Magnetic Separation - Use of permanent or electro-magnets to remove relatively strong ferromagnetic particles from para- and dia-magnetic ores.

Material Damage - 

  1. Any functional impairment of surface lands, features, structures or facilities;
  2. Any physical change that has a significant adverse impact on the affected land's capability to support any current or reasonably foreseeable uses or causes significant loss in production or income; or
  3. Any significant change in the condition, appearance or utility of any structure or facility from its pre-subsidence condition.

Materially Damage the Quantity or Quality of Water - With respect to alluvial valley floors, to degrade or reduce by surface coal mining and reclamation operations the water quantity or quality supplied to the alluvial valley floor to the extent that resulting changes would significantly decrease the capability of the alluvial valley floor to support farming.

Metal Complexes - An ion consisting of several atoms including at least one metal cation.

Microbial Mat - A naturally occurring mat of organic matter found in wetland environments, typically composed predominantly of blue-green algae.

Mining Area - An individual excavation site or pit from which coal, other minerals and overburden are removed.

Mine - An opening or excavation in the earth for the purpose of extracting minerals.

Mineral - A naturally occurring, solid, inorganic element or compound, with a definite composition or range of compositions, usually possessing a regular internal crystalline structure.

Mineral Processing - Preparation of ores by physical methods. A subcategory of metallurgy. Methods of mineral processing include comminution, classification, flotation, gravity separation, etc.

Moist Bulk Density - The weight of soil (oven dry) per unit volume. Volume is measured when the soil is at field moisture capacity (1/3 bar moisture tension). Weight is determined after drying the soil at 105 °C.

Mountaintop Removal - Surface mining activities, where the mining operation removes an entire coal seam or seams running through the upper fraction of a mountain, ridge, or hill, except as provided for in 30 CFR 824.11(a)(6), by removing substantially all of the overburden off the bench and creating a level plateau or a gently rolling contour, with no highwalls remaining, and capable of supporting postmining land uses in accordance with the requirements of this section.

MSHA - The Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Mulch - Vegetation residues or other suitable materials that aid in soil stabilization and soil moisture conservation, thus providing micro-climatic conditions suitable for germination and growth.

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Non-Commercial Building - Any building, other than an occupied residential dwelling, that, at the time the subsidence occurs, is used on a regular or temporary basis as a public building or community or institutional buildin. Any building used only for commercial agricultural, industrial, retail or other commercial enterprises is excluded.

Notice of Violation (NOV) - Notice presented to coal mine operators by inspectors when performance standards or permit conditions are not being met.

Noxious Plants - Species that have been included on official State lists of noxious plants for the State in which the surface coal mining and reclamation operation occurs.

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Occupied Residential Dwelling and Structures Related Thereto - Any building or other structure that, at the time the subsidence occurs, is used either temporarily, occasionally, seasonally, or permanently for human habitation. This term also includes any building, structure or facility installed on, above or below, or a combination thereof, the land surface if that building, structure or facility is adjunct to or used in connection with an occupied residential dwelling. Examples of such structures include, but are not limited to, garages; storage sheds and barns; greenhouses and related buildings; utilities and cables; fences and other enclosures; retaining walls; paved or improved patios, walks and driveways; septic sewage treatment facilities; and lot drainage and lawn and garden irrigation systems. Any structure used only for commercial agricultural, industrial, retail or other commercial purposes is excluded.

Office - The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement established under title II of the Act.

Operator - Any person engaged in coal mining who removes or intends to remove more than 250 tons of coal from the earth or from coal refuse piles by mining within 12 consecutive calendar months in any one location.

OSM and OSMRE - The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement established under title II of the Act.

Other Treatment Facilities - Any chemical treatments, such as flocculation or neutralization, or mechanical structures, such as clarifiers or precipitators, that have a point source discharge and are utilized: (a) To prevent additional contributions of dissolved or suspended solids to streamflow or runoff outside the permit area, or (b) To comply with all applicable State and Federal water-quality laws and regulations."

Outslope - The face of the spoil or embankment sloping downward from the highest elevation to the toe.

Overburden - Material of any nature, consolidated or unconsolidated, that overlies a coal deposit, excluding topsoil.

Own, Owner, or Ownership - A sole proprietor or owning of record in excess of 50 percent of the voting securities or other instruments of ownership of an entity except when used in the context of ownership of real property as found in 30 CFR 701.5.

Oxidizing - Increasing in oxidation number (valence charge). The process of oxidation involves a loss of electrons.

Oxyhydroxides - Chemical compounds that contain one or more cations bonded to both oxygen and hydroxide (OH) anions.

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Passive Treatment Systems - Systems that do not require periodic or continual maintenance or upkeep to maintain system effectiveness. Examples include aerobic or anaerobic wetlands, anoxic limestone drains, open limestone channels, alkalinity producing systems, and limestone ponds.

Perennial Stream - A stream or part of a stream that flows continuously during all of the calendar year as a result of ground-water discharge or surface runoff. The term does not include intermittent stream or ephemeral stream.

Performance Bond - A surety bond, collateral bond or self-bond or a combination thereof, by which a permittee assures faithful performance of all the requirements of the Act, this chapter, a State, Federal or Federal lands program, and the requirements of the permit and reclamation plan.

Permanent Diversion - A diversion remaining after surface coal mining and reclamation operations are completed which has been approved for retention by the regulatory authority and other appropriate State and Federal agencies.

Permanent Impoundment - An impoundment which is approved by the regulatory authority and, if required, by other State and Federal agencies for retention as part of the postmining land use.

Permit - A permit to conduct surface and underground coal mining and reclamation operations issued by the State regulatory authority pursuant to a State program or by the Secretary pursuant to a Federal program. For purposes of the Federal lands program, permit means a permit issued by the State regulatory authority under a cooperative agreement or by OSMRE where there is no cooperative agreement.

Permit Area - The area of land, indicated on the approved map submitted by the operator with his or her application, required to be covered by the operator's performance bond under subchapter J of this chapter and which shall include the area of land upon which the operator proposes to conduct surface and underground coal mining and reclamation operations under the permit, including all disturbed areas; provided that areas adequately bonded under another valid permit may be excluded from the permit area.

Permittee - A person holding or required by the Act or this chapter to hold a permit to conduct surface and underground coal mining and reclamation operations issued by a State regulatory authority pursuant to a State program, by the Director pursuant to a Federal program, by the Director pursuant to a Federal lands program, or, where a cooperative agreement pursuant to section 523 of the Act has been executed, by the Director and the State regulatory authority.

Person - An individual, Indian tribe when conducting surface and underground coal mining and reclamation operations on non-Indian lands, partnership, association, society, joint venture, joint stock company, firm, company, corporation, cooperative or other business organization and any agency, unit, or instrumentality of Federal, State or local government including any publicly owned utility or publicly owned corporation of Federal State or local government.

Person Having an Interest Which is or May be Adversely Affected or Person with a Valid Legal Interest - Shall include any person

  1. Who uses any resource of economic, recreational, esthetic, or environmental value that may be adversely affected by coal exploration or surface coal mining and reclamation operations or any related action of the Secretary or the State regulatory authority; or
  2. Whose property is or may be adversely affected by coal exploration or surface coal mining and reclamation operations or any related action of the Secretary or the State regulatory authority.

pH - A measure of the hydrogen ion concentration, a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Neutral solutions have pH values of 7, acidic solutions have pH values less than 7, and alkaline solutions have pH values greater than 7.

Pits - The active part of a strip mine where active excavation and mineral extraction is being done.

Porous Reactive Walls - Trenches constructed to intercept contaminated groundwater and which are filled with materials such as activated charcoal that sorb or precipitate metals from solution.

Pozzolans - Siliceous or siliceous and aluminous materials that in themselves possess little or no cementitious value but will, in finely divided form and in the presence of water, chemically react with calcium hydroxide at ordinary temperatures to form compounds possessing cementitious properties.

Precipitation Event - A quantity of water resulting from drizzle, rain, snow, sleet, or hail in a limited period of time. It may be expressed in terms of recurrence interval. As used in these regulations, precipitation event also includes that quantity of water emanating from snow cover as snowmelt in a limited period of time.

Pre-existing Discharge - Pollutional discharge resulting from mining activities prior to August 3, 1977 and not physically encountered during active mining operations. Under the Rahall Amendment to the Clean Water Act, a pre-existing discharge is defined as any discharge existing at the time of permit application.

Premining - Refers to the conditions and features that exist on a site at the time of application for a permit to conduct surface and underground coal mining operations.

Preparation Plant - A facility at which coal is cleaned or processed before being shipped or used.

Previously Mined Area - Land affected by surface coal mining operations prior to August 3, 1977, that has not been reclaimed to the standards of 30 CFR chapter VII.

Primacy - A joint state/federal relationship where states have elected to develop, administer, and enforce approved programs for regulating coal mining and reclamation under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

Prime Farmland - Those lands which are defined by the Secretary of Agriculture in 7 CFR part 657 (Federal Register Vol. 4 No. 21) and which have historically been used for cropland as that phrase is defined above.

Principal Shareholder - Any person who is the record or beneficial owner of 10 percent or more of any class of voting stock.

Priority (AML) - Eligibility of abandoned mine land projects for fund expenditures based on a degree of adverse effects on health and safety. The priority projects are as follows: - The protection of public health, safety, general welfare, and property from extreme danger of adverse effects of coal mining practices; - The protection of public health, safety, and general welfare from adverse effects of coal mining practices. - The restoration of land and water resources and the environment previously degraded by adverse effects of coal mining practices including measures for the conservation and development of soil, water (excluding channelization), woodland, fish and wildlife, recreation resources, and agricultural productivity. - The protection, repair, replacement, construction, or enhancement of public facilities such as utilities, roads, recreation, and conservation facilities adversely affected by coal mining practices; and - The development of publicly owned land adversely affected by coal mining practices including land acquired as provided in this title for recreation and historic purposes, conservation, and reclamation purposes and open space benefits.

  • Priority 1 (P1) - An AML problem meeting the conditions under Section 403(a)(1) [coal], or 411 (c)(1) [non-coal] of SMCRA concerning the protection of public health, safety, and property from the extreme danger of adverse effects of mining practices or adjacent land and water reclamation.
  • Priority 2 (P2) - An AML problem meeting the conditions under Section 403 (a)(2) [coal] or 411(c)(2) [non-coal] of SMCRA concerning the protection of public health and safety from adverse effects of mining practices or adjacent land and water reclamation.
  • Priority 3 (P3) - An AML problem category meeting the conditions under Section 403(a)(3) [coal] or 411 (c)(3) [non-coal] of SMCRA concerning the restoration of land and water resources and the environment previously degraded by adverse effects of mining practices.

Property to be Mined - Both the surface estates and mineral estates within the permit area and the area covered by underground workings.

Protection and Enhancement Plan - A description of how, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available, the operator will minimize disturbances and adverse impacts on fish and wildlife and related environmental values, including compliance with the Endangered Species Act, during the surface coal mining and reclamation operations and how enhancement of these resources will be achieved where practicable.

Public Office - A facility under the direction and control of a governmental entity which is open to public access on a regular basis during reasonable business hours.

Pyrite - A yellowish mineral, iron disulfide (FeS2) commonly found in coal beds and associated rocks.

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Rangeland - Land on which the natural potential (climax) plant cover is principally native grasses, forbs, and shrubs valuable for forage. This land includes natural grasslands and savannahs, such as prairies, and juniper savannahs, such as brushlands. Except for brush control, management is primarily achieved by regulating the intensity of grazing and season of use.

Reasonably Available Spoil - Spoil and suitable coal mine waste material generated by the remining operation or other spoil or suitable coal mine waste material located in the permit area that is accessible and available for use and that when rehandled will not cause a hazard to public safety or significant damage to the environment.

Recharge Capacity - The ability of the soils and underlying materials to allow precipitation and runoff to infiltrate and reach the zone of saturation.

Reclamation - Actions taken to restore mined land as required by this chapter to a postmining land use approved by the regulatory authority.

Reclaimed Coal - Coal recovered from a deposit that is not in its original geological location, such as refuse piles or culm banks or retaining dams and ponds that are or have been used during the mining or preparation process, and stream coal deposits. Reclaimed coal operations are considered to be surface coal mining operations for fee liability and calculation purposes.

Recurrence Interval - The interval of time in which a precipitation event is expected to occur once, on the average. For example, the 10-year 24-hour precipitation event would be that 24-hour precipitation event expected to occur on the average once in 10 years.

Reducing - Decreasing in oxidation number (valence charge). The process of reduction involves a gain of electrons.

Reduction-Oxidation Potential - A measure of the tendency of a chemical species to be reduced (aquire electrons) or oxidized (lose electrons). The redox potential or Eh.

Reference Area - A land unit maintained under appropriate management for the purpose of measuring vegetation ground cover, productivity and plant species diversity that are produced naturally or by crop production methods approved by the regulatory authority. Reference areas must be representative of geology, soil, slope, and vegetation in the permit area.

Refuse Pile - A surface deposit of coal mine waste that does not impound water, slurry, or other liquid or semi-liquid material.

Regional Director - A Regional Director of the Office or a Regional Director's representative.

Regulatory Program - Any approved State or Federal program or, in a State with no approved State or Federal program and coal exploration and surface coal mining and reclamation operations are on Federal lands.

Regulatory Authority - The department or agency in each State which has primary responsibility at the State level for administering the Act in the initial program, or the State regulatory authority where the State is administering the Act under a State regulatory program, or the Secretary in the initial or permanent program where the Secretary is administering the Act, or the Secretary when administering a Federal program or Federal lands program or when enforcing a State program pursuant to section 521(b) of the Act.

Remining - Conducting surface coal mining and reclamation operations which affect previously mined areas.

Renewable Resource Lands - Aquifers and areas for the recharge of aquifers and other underground waters, areas for agricultural or silvicultural production of food and fiber, and grazinglands.

Replacement of Water Supply - With respect to protected water supplies contaminated, diminished, or interrupted by coal mining operations, provision of water supply on both a temporary and permanent basis equivalent to premining quantity and quality. Replacement includes provision of an equivalent water delivery system and payment of operation and maintenance costs in excess of customary and reasonable delivery costs for premining water supplies.

  1. Upon agreement by the permittee and the water supply owner, the obligation to pay such operation and maintenance costs may be satisfied by a one-time payment in an amount which covers the present worth of the increased annual operation and maintenance costs for a period agreed to by the permittee and the water supply owner.
  2. If the affected water supply was not needed for the land use in existence at the time of loss, contamination, or diminution, and if the supply is not needed to achieve the postmining land use, replacement requirements may be satisfied by demonstrating that a suitable alternative water source is available and could feasibly be developed. If the latter approach is selected, written concurrence must be obtained from the water supply owner.

Revegetation - The reestablishment and development of self-sustaining plant cover. On disturbed sites, this normally requires human assistance such as seed bed preparation, reseeding, and mulching.

Riparian - Pertaining to the bank of a natural watercourse.

Riprap - Large pieces of broken or crushed durable rock or concrete placed on earth dams and in drainage channels for protection against water erosion.

Road - A surface right-of-way for purposes of travel by land vehicles used in surface coal mining and reclamation operations or coal exploration. A road consists of the entire area within the right-of-way, including the roadbed, shoulders, parking and side areas, approaches, structures, ditches, and surface. The term includes access and haulroads constructed, used, reconstructed, improved, or maintained for use in surface coal mining and reclamation operations or coal exploration, including use by coal hauling vehicles to and from transfer, processing, or storage areas. The term does not include ramps and routes of travel within the immediate mining area or within spoil or coal mine waste disposal areas.

Room and Pillar - This is an underground mining method. It consists of excavating drifts (horizontal passages) in a rectilinear pattern so that evenly spaced pillars are left to support the overlying material. A fairly large portion of the ore (40%-50%) must be left in place. Sometimes the remaining ore is recovered by removing or shaving the pillars as the mine is vacated, allowing the overhead to collapse or making future collapse more likely.

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Safety Factor - The ratio of the available shear strength to the developed shear stress, or the ratio of the sum of the resisting forces to the sum of the loading or driving forces, as determined by accepted engineering practices.

Scrubber Sludge - Another name for fluidized gas desulfurization (FGD) material.

Secretary - The Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary's representative.

Sedges - Any of numerous plants of the family Cyperaceae, resembling grasses but having solid rather than hollow stems.

Sedimentation Pond - An impoundment used to remove solids from water in order to meet water quality standards or effluent limitations before the water leaves the permit area.

Seep - A low-flowing surface discharge point for ground water. A low-flow spring.

Shaft - An excavation of limited area compared with its depth, made for finding or mining ore or coal, raising ore, rock or water, hoisting and lowering men and materials, or ventilating underground workings.

Significant, Imminent Environmental Harm to Land, Air or Water Resources -

  1. An environmental harm is an adverse impact on land, air, or water resources which resources include, but are not limited to, plant and animal life.
  2. An environmental harm is imminent, if a condition, practice, or violation exists which-
    1. Is causing such harm; or
    2. May reasonably be expected to cause such harm at any time before the end of the reasonable abatement time that would be set under section 521(a)(3) of the Act.
  3. An environmental harm is significant if that harm is appreciable and not immediately reparable.

Siltation Structure - A sedimentation pond, a series of sedimentation ponds, or other treatment facility.

Slope - Average inclination of a surface, measured from the horizontal, generally expressed as the ratio of a unit of vertical distance to a given number of units of horizontal distance (e.g., 1v: 5h). It may also be expressed as a percent or in degrees.

Slurry - Fine coal and other material washed from marketable coal during the cleaning process.

Soil Horizons - Contrasting layers of soil parallel or nearly parallel to the land surface. Soil horizons are differentiated on the basis of field characteristics and laboratory data. The four master soil horizons are -

  1. A horizon. The uppermost mineral layer, often called the surface soil. It is the part of the soil in which organic matter is most abundant, and leaching of soluble or suspended particles is typically the greatest;
  2. E horizon. The layer commonly near the surface below an A horizon and above a B horizon. An E horizon is most commonly differentiated from an overlying A horizon by lighter color and generally has measurably less organic matter than the A horizon. An E horizon is most commonly differentiated from an underlying B horizon in the same sequum by color of higher value or lower chroma, by coarser texture, or by a combination of theses properties;
  3. B horizon. The layer that typically is immediately beneath the E horizon and often called the subsoil. This middle layer commonly contains more clay, iron, or aluminum than the A, E, or C horizons; and
  4. C horizon. The deepest layer of soil profile. It consists of loose material or weathered rock that is relatively unaffected by biologic activity.

Soil Survey - A field and other investigation, resulting in a map showing the geographic distribution of different kinds of soils and an accompanying report that describes, classifies, and interprets such soils for use.

Sorption - The process of sorbing as by adsorption or absorption.

Special Bituminous Coal Mines - Mines in existence on January 1, 1972, or mines adjoining or having a common boundary with those mines for which development began after August 3, 1977, that are located in the State of Wyoming and that are being mined or will be mined according to the following criteria:

  1. Surface mining takes place on a relatively limited site for an extended period of time. The surface opening of the excavation is at least the full size of the excavation and has a continuous border.
  2. Excavation of the mine pit follows a coal seam that inclines 15° or more from the horizontal, and as the excavation proceeds downward it expands laterally to maintain stability of the pitwall or as necessary to accommodate the orderly expansion of the total mining operation.
  3. The amount of material removed from the pit is large in comparison to the surface area disturbed.
  4. There is no practicable alternative to the deep open-pit method of mining the coal.
  5. There is no practicable way to reclaim the land as required in subchapter K.

Spoil - Overburden that has been removed during surface coal mining operations.

Stabilize - To control movement of soil, spoil piles, or areas of disturbed earth by modifying the geometry of the mass, or by otherwise modifying physical or chemical properties, such as by providing a protective surface coating.

State Program - A program established by a State and approved by the Secretary pursuant to section 503 of the Act to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation operations on non-Indian and non-Federal lands within that State.

State Regulatory Authority - The department or agency in each State which has primary responsibility at the State level for administering the initial or permanent State regulatory program.

Steep Slope - Any slope of more than 20° or such lesser slope as may be designated by the regulatory authority after consideration of soil, climate, and other characteristics of a region or State.

Stope - An excavation in a mine, other than development workings, made for the purpose of extracting ore.

Subirrigation - With respect to alluvial valley floors, the supplying of water to plants from underneath or from a semisaturated or saturated subsurface zone where water is available for use by vegetation.

Subsidence - Surface caving or sinking of a part of the earth’s crust due to underground mining excavations.

Substantially Disturb - For purposes of coal exploration, to significantly impact land or water resources by blasting; by removal of vegetation, topsoil, or overburden; by construction of roads or other access routes; by placement of excavated earth or waste material on the natural land surface or by other such activities; or to remove more than 250 tons of coal.

Substrate - An underlayer. In passive treatment systems this refers to a layer of organic or other matter that underlies ponded acidic water.

Successor in Interest - Any person who succeeds to rights granted under a permit, by transfer, assignment, or sale of those rights.

Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Operations - Surface mining operations and all activities necessary and incident to the reclamation of such operations after August 3, 1977.

Surface Coal Mining Operations -

  1. Activities conducted on the surface of lands in connection with a surface coal mine or, subject to the requirements of section 516 of the Act, surface operations and surface impacts incident to an underground coal mine, the products of which enter commerce or the operations of which directly or indirectly affect interstate commerce. Such activities include excavation for the purpose of obtaining coal, including such common methods as contour, strip, auger, mountain top removal, box cut, open pit, and area mining; the use of explosives and blasting; in situ distillation or retorting; leaching or other chemical or physical processing; and the cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation of coal. Such activities also include the loading of coal for interstate commerce at or near the mine site. Provided, these activities do not include the extraction of coal incidental to the extraction of other minerals, where coal does not exceed 16 2/3rd percent of the tonnage of minerals removed for purposes of commercial use or sale, or coal exploration subject to section 512 of the Act; and, Provided further, that excavation for the purpose of obtaining coal includes extraction of coal from coal refuse piles; and
  2. The areas upon which the activities described in paragraph (a) of this definition occur or where such activities disturb the natural land surface. These areas shall also include any adjacent land the use of which is incidental to any such activities, all lands affected by the construction of new roads or the improvement or use of existing roads to gain access to the site of those activities and for haulage and excavation, workings, impoundments, dams, ventilation shafts, entryways, refuse banks, dumps, stockpiles, overburden piles, spoil banks, culm banks, tailings, holes or depressions, repair areas, storage areas, processing areas, shipping areas, and other areas upon which are sited structures, facilities, or other property or material on the surface, resulting from or incident to those activities.

Surface Mining Activities - Those surface coal mining and reclamation operations incident to the extraction of coal from the earth by removing the materials over a coal seam, before recovering the coal, by auger coal mining, or by recovery of coal from a deposit that is not in its original geologic location.

Suspended Solids or Nonfilterable Residue, Expressed as Milligrams per Liter - Organic or inorganic materials carried or held in suspension in water that will remain on a 0.45 micron filter.

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Temporary Diversion - A diversion of a stream or overland flow which is used during coal exploration or surface coal mining and reclamation operations and not approved by the regulatory authority to remain after reclamation as part of the approved postmining land use.

Temporary Impoundment - An impoundment used during surface coal mining and reclamation operations, but not approved by the regulatory authority to remain as part of the approved postmining land use.

Terrace - A depression across the face of a steep hillside that slows the flow of surface water and minimizes soil erosion.

Thixotropy - The property of a material that enables it to stiffen in a relatively short time on standing, but, upon agitation or manipulation, can change to a very soft consistency or to a fluid of high viscosity, the process being completely reversible.

Ton - 2000 Pounds avoirdupois (.90718 metric ton).

Topsoil - The A and E soil horizon layers of the four master soil horizons.

Toxic-Forming Materials - Earth materials or wastes which, if acted upon by air, water, weathering, or microbiological processes, are likely to produce chemical or physical conditions in soils or water that are detrimental to biota or uses of water.

Transfer, Assignment, or Sale of Permit Rights - A change of a permittee.

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Unanticipated Event or Condition - An event or condition related to prior mining activity which arises from a surface coal mining and reclamation operation on lands eligible for remining and was not contemplated by the applicable permit.

Underground Development Waste - Waste-rock mixtures of coal, shale, claystone, siltstone, sandstone, limestone, or related materials that are excavated, moved, and disposed of from underground workings in connection with underground mining activities.

Underground Mining Activities - A combination of— (a) Surface operations incident to underground extraction of coal or in situ processing, such as construction, use, maintenance, and reclamation of roads, above-ground repair areas, storage areas, processing areas, shipping areas, areas upon which are sited support facilities including hoist and ventilating ducts, areas utilized for the disposal and storage of waste, and areas on which materials incident to underground mining operations are placed; and (b) Underground operations such as underground construction, operation, and reclamation of shafts, adits, underground support facilities, in situ processing, and underground mining, hauling, storage, and blasting."

Undeveloped Rangeland - For purposes of alluvial valley floors, lands where the use is not specifically controlled and managed.

Upland Areas - With respect to alluvial valley floors, those geomorphic features located outside the floodplain and terrace complex, such as isolated higher terraces, alluvial fans, pediment surfaces, landslide deposits, and surfaces covered with residuum, mud flows or debris flows, as well as highland areas underlain by bedrock and covered by residual weathered material or debris deposited by sheetwash, rillwash, or windblown material.

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Valley Fill - A fill structure consisting of any material, other than organic material, that is placed in a valley where side slopes of the existing valley, measured at the steepest point, are greater than 20 degrees, or where the average slope of the profile of the valley from the toe of the fill to the top of the fill is greater than 10 degrees.

Vegetation - Plants in general of the sum of total of the plant life above and below ground in an area.

Violation - When used in the context of the permit application information or permit eligibility requirements of sections 507 and 510(c) of the Act and related regulations means-

  1. A failure to comply with an applicable provision of a Federal or State law or regulation pertaining to air or water environmental protection, or
  2. A noncompliance for which OSMRE has provided one or more of the following types of notice or a State regulatory authority has provided equivalent notice under corresponding provisions of a State regulatory program -
    1. A notice of violation
    2. A cessation order
    3. A final order, bill, or demand letter pertaining to a delinquent civil penalty assessed
    4. A bill or demand letter pertaining to delinquent reclamation fees owed
    5. A notice of bond forfeiture when -
      1. One or more violations upon which the forfeiture was based have not been abated or corrected;
      2. The amount forfeited and collected is insufficient for full reclamation, the regulatory authority orders reimbursement for additional reclamation costs, and the person has not complied with the reimbursement order; or
      3. The site is covered by an alternative bonding system, that system requires reimbursement of any reclamation costs incurred by the system above those covered by any site-specific bond, and the person has not complied with the reimbursement requirement and paid any associated penalties.

Violation Notice - Any written notification from a regulatory authority or other governmental entity, as specified in the definition of violation in this section.

Violation, Failure or Refusal -

  1. A failure to comply with a condition of a Federally-issued permit or of any other permit that OSMRE is directly enforcing under section 502 or 521 of the Act or the regulations implementing those sections; or
  2. A failure or refusal to comply with any order issued under section 521 of the Act, or any order incorporated in a final decision issued by the Secretary under the Act, except an order incorporated in a decision issued under section 518(b) or section 703 of the Act.
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Water Table - The upper surface of a zone of saturation, where the body of ground water is not confined by an overlying impermeable zone.

Wetlands - Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

Wetland Treatment System - A passive biological effluent treatment system consisting of a shallow depression or impoundment or series of such depressions or impoundments designed and constructed to support hydrophytic vegetation for the purpose of removing dissolved metals and otherwise improving discharge quality.

Willful or Willfully - Means that a person who authorized, ordered or carried out an act or omission that resulted in either a violation or the failure to abate or correct a violation acted -

  1. Intentionally, voluntarily, or consciously; and
  2. With intentional disregard or plain indifference to legal requirements.
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The definitions contained on www.osmre.gov/URLOFGLOSSARY are for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations.

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Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 1/14/20

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240
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