In 1977, the first statewide comprehensive mining law for noncoal mining became effective. The primary focus of the law was to ensure good land reclamation, environmental protection and public safety. By the end of 1977, there were 18 permitted noncoal surface mines in Maryland with at least one in every county.
"The extraction of minerals is a basic and essential activity making an important contribution to the economic well being of the State and to the nation..." These words are found in the legislative intent section of the Maryland surface mine law and reflects the importance of mining to our society. The law also goes on to say that the affects of mining must be regulated to provide for the protection and conservation of the natural resources of the State (MD) and the reclamation of lands impacted by mining.
Minerals are defined in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Environment Article, Title 15, subtitle 8: "Minerals mean any solids material, aggregate, or substance of commercial value, whether consolidated or loose, found in natural deposits on or in the earth, including clay, diatomaceous earth, gravel, marl, metallic ores, sand, shell, soil, and stone. The term does not include coal."
The descriptions and regulations for Oil and Gas can be found in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Environmental Article, Title 14.
Maryland operators have become very innovative in reclamation, winning five national awards for reclamation since 1989. Reclamation in the more urban areas may be done in preparation for a specific land use such as development. The more rural areas still reclaim using open space and agriculture as the dominant land use forms.
The Minerals, Oil and Gas program continues to stay current on issues such as blasting, reclamation practices, and mining impacts. The Division continues to work with the public and the mining industry to provide for public safety, environmental protection, and good land reclamation.
Molly Michaelson, Molly.Michaelson@Maryland.gov, Division Chief of Minerals, Oil and Gas, at 410-537-3568, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230