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    Subject Term: "Hardrock mines"

    1 publication with a total of 5 open recommendations
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to take actions to improve the quality of mine plan submissions by, for example, developing guidance for mine operators and agency field officials that instructs them to hold pre-plan submittal meetings whenever possible.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in May 2016, the Department of Agriculture will provide training opportunities at all Forest Service levels in the proper administration and approval of mining plans and hold pre-planning meetings when possible. In addition, the Forest Service will promulgate regulations by October 1, 2017, to incorporate a pre-plan submittal meeting requirement in the revision of the Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR 228 Subpart A, Locatable Minerals.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to issue a rule that establishes a fee structure for hardrock mine plan processing activities and request the authority from the Congress to retain any fees it collects.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in May 2016, the Forest Service will review and evaluate all existing authorities that may allow the agency to promulgate a rule to collect and retain fees for hardrock mine plan processing activities. If authorities exist, the Forest Service will promulgate a rule by October 1, 2018. The letter also stated that the Forest Service has contacted the Office of General Counsel to aid in their review and will begin the process for requesting the authority from Congress for collecting and retaining hardrock mine plan processing fees.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to take actions to improve the quality of mine plan submissions by, for example, developing guidance for mine operators and agency field officials that instructs them to hold pre-plan submittal meetings whenever possible.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM agrees that pre-plan submittal meetings are worthwhile and may help prevent delays in the permitting process. The letter also stated that BLM will issue policy guidance for BLM employees regarding participation in pre-plan submittal meetings when possible and when desired by the operator. BLM will include general guidelines and will encourage each state office to create state-specific guidelines that will better meet the needs of the mining industry in each state. According to agency officials in February 2017, BLM has completed a draft of the pre-plan submittal meeting guidelines and expect to issue the final version by March 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to issue a rule that assesses fees associated with reviewing hardrock mine plans that involve conducting environmental assessments.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM expressed concern about whether promulgating a rule to assess cost recovery fees for environmental assessment would result in faster permitting times and noted that such an undertaking may be challenging to complete given resource limitation as a result of other high priority rulemaking efforts currently underway by BLM. In the preamble of BLM's 2005 cost recovery rule, BLM indicated that it would consider issuing a separate rule to recover costs associated with reviewing mine plans that require an environmental assessment. BLM proposes to fulfill the intent of the preamble by conducting an internal analysis to determine whether requiring cost recovery would result in reduced permitting times. BLM will report its findings and address other options for increasing staff resources. According to agency officials in February 2017, BLM expects to complete its internal analysis and report its findings by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to create new codes in its Legacy Rehost 2000 database distinguishing between different types of mine plans to help track the length of time to complete the mine plan review process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM will develop new LR2000 codes to differentiate between different types of operations. According to agency officials in February 2017, BLM expects to revise the LR2000 codes by June 30, 2017.