The main functions of the Minerals Program is the enforcement of a safe and healthy working environment for the miners in the mining industry, ensuring compliance with mining permits issued, and the enforcement of reclamation so that Oklahoma land is left in a productive, safe, and usable state. This is accomplished by enforcing the administrative law found under OAC 460:10 and O.S. Title 45 regarding Non-Coal permits. Non-Mining Blasting laws are found under OAC 460: 25 and O.S. Title 63.
The Program administers two separate programs. The Non-Coal Mining Program and the Non- Mining Blasting Program work simultaneously and parallel to accomplish our Division’s goals through:
1. Issuing mining permits and amendments (revisions) in compliance with the statutes and regulations under our state’s law.
2. Conducting annual reviews in compliance with statutes and regulations.
3. Approving bond releases in compliance with statutes and regulations.
4. Issuing Non-Mining Blasting permits and Blasting permit exemptions for the purchase of explosives in Oklahoma.
5. Conducting health and safety inspections and environmental inspections on all Non-Coal surface and underground mines.
6. Conducting permit review inspections on all Non-Coal mine sites.
7. Conducting reclamation inspections on all Non-Coal sites.
8. Conducting complaint investigations upon request.
9. Conducting hearings as outlined in the statutes and regulations.
10. Conducting blasting inspections on all mine sites.
11. Conducting accident or fatality investigations as they occur.
12. Conducting Non-Mining blasting inspections.
NON-MINING BLASTING PROGRAM
The Oklahoma Department of Mines regulates the use of explosives within Oklahoma. All mining operations which utilize explosives must have approved Blasting Plans on file in their mining permits. These locations are regulated by the mining divisions of the Department. All other uses of explosives must comply with the “Oklahoma Explosives and Blasting Regulation Act” of Title 63. The Non- Mining Blasting Program regulates the purchase and use of explosives in compliance with this act.
Prior to purchasing explosives in the State of Oklahoma, an individual or company must obtain a Blasting Permit or an approved Blasting Permit Exemption from the Department. All explosives distributors are required to view the permits or exemptions prior to selling explosives. Failure to follow these procedures could result in a fine issued by the Department.
Blasting Permits may be obtained for three different time frames. A permit fee is required for each request. For a Continuous Use Permit, valid for one (1) year, a fee of $150.00 is required. For a Limited Time Permit, valid for four (4) months from issuance, a fee of $100.00 is required, and for a One Time Permit a fee of $50.00 is required (460:25-3-9).
The process for obtaining a blasting permit requires completing an application for a blasting permit, including providing proof of liability insurance, copies of current Oklahoma blaster certifications, and an annual fee. Upon receipt of a complete and notarized application, the application is posted at the Oklahoma City office and online for public review for two (2) weeks. During this two-week period, the application is reviewed for adequacy and completeness.
Blasting permit holders must submit a detailed blasting plan prior to each blast, for review by the Blasting Inspector. The Minerals Division Administrator or Deputy Director reviews the Inspector’s recommendations and approves or modifies the request. A notice of completion for each blasting job must be submitted to the Department within thirty (30) days after the completion date listed on the blast plan. In the event of an emergency blast, a detailed explanation of circumstances and reason for an emergency must be submitted. A notice of completion is also to be submitted to the Department no later than 48 hours following the blast.
Blasting permits are subject to inspections as well as issuance of violations and possible monetary fines, when applicable. Blasting permits must be renewed annually.
The process for obtaining a blasting exemption requires completing an application for permit exemption. Exemptions may fall under one or more of eight (8) exemption categories. Applicants must be able to justify the categories for which they apply.
Receipt of a completed and notarized exemption application must include an annual fee of $25.00 (460: 25-10-9), as well as a copy of a Criminal History background check from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, or proof of current Oklahoma blaster certification.
An applicant may list as many categories as are applicable. The seven categories of blasting exemptions are:
1. Oil and gas exploration
2. Mining operations
3. Non-commercial use
4. Incidental or construction, as part of Federal, State or local government financed highway or other construction
5. Duly qualified bomb technicians
6. State municipalities or counties
7. Department of Transportation
Blasting exemptions generally are not required to submit blasting plans and notices of completion unless they fall under exemption category #6 (State municipalities or counties), category #7 (Department of Transportation), and category #8 (Contractors). Categories #6, #7, and #8 do not have the option of submitting and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation criminal history check. These blasting exemptions must instead submit proof of current Oklahoma blaster certification. Blasting exemptions must be renewed on an annual basis.
The Departmental rules provide for inspection of all blasting operations for compliance with the standards established by 460: 25. Every detonation must be recorded on an approved recording form and made available for periodic review. Periodically, the inspector will monitor actual detonations to ensure compliance with the Blasting Plan submitted.
Inspections for blasting and permitting standards may involve the issuance of violations and fines as outlined by the Departmental rules. In 2017, concerted efforts were made to inspect explosive distributors' records to ensure explosive sales were made to valid blasting permit or blasting permit exemption holders. Monetary violations were issued as a result of these inspections.
The Minerals Division monitors and investigates complaints for Non-Coal Mining and Non-Mining Blasting activities throughout the State of Oklahoma. Although the law states that written complaints be investigated, the Division responds to all received complaints whether written, oral, or filed on the Department's website. Complaint files, as well as complaint log data bases, are maintained and updated for all complaints received by the Division.
A complaint investigation form is processed for each complaint and sent to the complainant and the appropriate inspector(s). A copy of the inspector's investigation report, including an outline of any action which was taken, is sent to the complainant with a letter explaining the administrative process. If the complainant disagrees with the action, he/she may appeal the decision as outlined in the administrative process.
If during the course of the complaint investigation, an operator is found to be conducting illegal activities or is in violation of Department Rules, the operator is subject to violations and a fine for mining without a permit, if applicable. Violations issued in Non-Mining Blasting activities also subject to monetary fines.
Complaints determined to be out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Mines are forwarded to the appropriate regulatory authority.