It has been said that everything our communities need, including our food, clothing, shelter, energy and transportation is either mined or grown. Mining rocks and minerals provides us with the quality of life we enjoy today.  Mining companies recognize mined materials are an abundant but non-renewable resource, so they must be sustainably developed. 

Ensuring sustainable development is the responsibility of not only the mining company but also various Federal, State and local agencies including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Mine Safety and Health Administration and Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Surface mining permit

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) requires a Surface Mining Permit for all operations that affect over 10 acres per year by mining or remove more than 10 feet of overburden (soil on top of the rock or mineral being extracted). A Surface Mining Permit application requires the operator to submit an operating plan that illustrates how the land will be affected by mining operations as well as a reclamation plan that describes how the mined land will be restored for future use.  The mine reclamation plan must be submitted for review to the County Board in the County where the mine is located.  If the County Board requests, a public hearing will be scheduled by the IDNR to receive comments on the proposed reclamation plan.

In order to receive a Surface Mining Permit, the operator must post a bond with the State of Illinois that obligates the company to perform the activities specified in the reclamation plan. Mine inspections are performed annually by IDNR representatives; progress is mapped via aerial photography. 

Reclamation bonds can only be released if the IDNR inspector finds that enough work has been completed to allow the property to be returned to a productive use, as set forth in the operator’s reclamation plan.  If the operator fails to comply with the approved reclamation plan, the State may file a claim against the amount of the bond.  The State then uses the bond proceeds to complete the reclamation of the mined land. 

The State’s aggregate mine regulatory program was enacted more than 40 years ago.   To date, only one aggregate mine in Illinois has failed to comply with its reclamation plan, thereby triggering bond forfeiture.  The reason for this excellent industry track record is apparent – the residual value of reclaimed land is simply too valuable for a mine operator to walk away from.

LaSalle County special use permit

If mining operations are to occur in unincorporated areas of the County, a mining company must apply for a Special Use Permit.  Before granting a Special Use Permit, public hearings are held and comments are considered.  After comments are received, the County Board votes to approve or dismiss the permit application.  In some instances, the County may require permit conditions such as restricted hours of operation, blasting vibration limits below what is allowed by State law, lighting restrictions, prescribed vegetation on berms around the property, or various agreements with neighboring homeowners. Municipalities may have adopted similar application procedures for mining operations.

The LaSalle County Board may invite the public to comment on the mining company's proposed reclamation plan. 

Mine reclamation example: Rotary Park in LaSalle

The majority of land on which Rotary Park in LaSalle will be built was once a quarry owned and mined by Illinois Cement.  The company donated the reclaimed land to the City and construction on the park site has already begun.1 Additional information about the park's design can be found here:

1. (City of LaSalle City Engineer Blog, LaSalle's Rotary Park; LaSalle Rotary Park foundation,, both sites accessed 12/11/2014).