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ABOUT THE MINING AND MINERALS DIVISION

 

The Office of the Director formulates division resource development, policy, planning, and administrative and fiscal management. The Director is appointed by the Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to administer laws and regulations pertaining to hard rock and coal mining, mine registration and safeguarding, and annual industry reporting. The Director serves as the state’s representative on mining issues for EMNRD and, occasionally, for the Governor, and represents New Mexico on the Interstate Mining Compact Commission. The Director and staff provide administrative and fiscal management, and liaison with the legislature on budget and legislation issues.

New Mexico’s Abandoned Mine Land Program and certain other states’ abandoned mine land programs throughout the nation were formed by the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) on May 2, 1977 (amended in 2006). This federal law levies a fee on active coal mines. (The amount of the fee varies, depending on whether the mine is surface-mined coal or underground-mined coal.) The monies collected from this fee are placed in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which then finances projects to reclaim coal mines abandoned prior to the enactment of SMCRA. Under certain conditions, abandoned non-coal mines may also be reclaimed using the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund monies. These resources are used to reclaim some of the over 15,000 abandoned mine features in the state of New Mexico, ranging from shallow prospect pits to 500-foot-deep mine shafts to piles of coal gob (mine waste). The law authorizing the fee on coal production is set to expire September 30, 2021.

The Coal Mine Reclamation Program was created in the early 1980s as part of New Mexico’s enactment of surface coal mine reclamation regulations under SMCRA (Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977). CMRP regulates coal mines on all lands (federal, state and private) within New Mexico, with the exception of Indian lands. With a mandate to protect the public health and safety and the environment in and around surface coal mining operations, CMRP permits, inspects and enforces in accordance with SMCRA regulations. Another part of our mandate is to educate citizens as to their rights when they feel coal mining operations may be affecting their health, safety, or property. A Citizen’s Guide to Coal Mine Blasting in New Mexico provides information about one of the areas of public concern associated with surface coal mining. 

The Mine Registration, Reporting and Safeguarding Program provides comprehensive information on mineral resources, mine registrations, reclamation and safeguarding efforts, legislation, and other MMD activities related to New Mexico’s mineral extraction industry and mineral resources. Decision-makers throughout New Mexico benefit from the valuable information compiled and disseminated through this program. The program registers all mines, collects data on active mining operations, and provides statistical information on New Mexico’s mining industry. MRRS provides annual updates on the mineral industry and mineral resources in New Mexico, using annual reporting of statistical information on the state’s mineral industry from active mining operations. The annual updates benefit the mining industry, contractors, government agencies, and the public sector.

The Mining Act Reclamation Program was created under the New Mexico Mining Act of 1993 to regulate hard rock mining reclamation activities for all minerals except the exploration and extraction of potash, sand, gravel, caliche, borrow dirt and quarry rock used as aggregate in construction; the exploration and extraction of natural petroleum in a liquid or gaseous state by means of wells or pipes; the development or extraction of coal; the extraction of geothermal resources; smelting, refining, cleaning, preparation, transportation or other off-site operations not conducted on permit areas; or the extraction, processing or disposal of commodities, by product materials or wastes or other activities regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mining and Minerals Division Mission

MMD’s mission is to ensure the responsible utilization, conservation, reclamation, and safeguarding of land and resources affected by mining. By statute (§9-5A-4.D NMSA 1978), MMD “shall enforce and administer laws and regulations relating to mine safety, coal surface mine reclamation and abandoned mine lands reclamation.” In addition, MMD collects “…information regarding production and value of production, persons employed, mining equipment and methods and any other information as may be reasonably required…” (§69-26-2, NMSA 1978).