There are just under 1,000 registered mineral sites in Iowa, utilized by 197 operators in 96 counties. Minerals extracted at these sites include: limestone, sand and gravel, gypsum and clay. The limestone industry alone produces over 33-35 million tons of stone each year for use in the construction industry.
The Division licenses each mine operator, and bonds and registers each mining site. One inspector monitors all sites across the state to assure compliance with Iowa Code Chapter 208 and adopted regulations, and to assure that the reclamation bond posted is adequate to complete required reclamation in the event of default by the operator. Inspections are also conducted in response to citizen inquiries or complaints.
Minerals operations are monitored by the Division to determine if the posted reclamation bond is sufficient to meet reclamation requirements in the event of default. Operators are required to observe certain setbacks from buildings, dwellings, property lines and public right-of-ways. Operators must also stabilize and vegetate overburden piles and prevent damage from occurring offsite as a result of mining activity. The statute also specifically prohibits practices that bury or destroy topsoil.
Final reclamation requires removal of debris, and disturbed overburden must be graded, smoothed and vegetated prior to the release of bond.
Air and water quality concerns at mineral operations are the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Mine safety and health concerns have been the exclusive domain of the federal government since 1973. The regulation of blasting and site location (zoning) are matters of local county jurisdiction and are not included in the Division’s scope of authority.
In addition to the license and registration issued by the Division of Soil Conservation for operating the mine, certain operations that market ag lime may also hold site-specific permits with the IDALS Feed and Fertilizer Bureau.