The Oregon Legislature’s 2017 session officially kicked off last week. A variety of mineral-related bills have been introduced. Here are some of the ones to follow:
SB 3 – SB 3 is primarily focused on suction dredge mining. It would build on the 2013 enactment of a moratorium, currently in effect until 2021, on the use of motorized equipment engaged in small-scale precious metal mining of placer deposits (i) within and upstream of spawning habitat for salmon and bull trout, and (ii) 100 yards upland from such areas if water quality could be impacted. SB 3 would wrap Pacific lamprey spawning habitat into the moratorium, but would eliminate the prohibition on upland use of such equipment starting in 2019. Instead, the use of such equipment, regardless of the size of the operation, within 100 yards upland of any river’s ordinary high water line would be subject to the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries’ (“DOGAMI”) existing exploration and operating permit programs, including the associated reclamation requirements. Starting in 2021, suction dredge mining would be permanently prohibited in a wide variety of locations unless the mining concerned a federal mining claim and the prohibition would violate federal law. In those areas where suction dredge mining was allowed, it would require a removal-fill permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) rather than the Department of State Lands. SB 3 would also provide that the surface mining exclusion certificate required under ORS 517.753 only applies to commercial sand, gravel, and crushed stone operations.
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