BLM sets new 30-day deadline for RMI to submit revised mining plan

A rockslide struck the Rocky Mountain Industrials limestone quarry in January 2023, complicating permit enforcement actions already under way by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Agency seeks detailed plan for slope stabilization following 2023 rockslide

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has given Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI) 30 days to submit a revised Plan Modification for its current quarry operations.

The Plan Modification has been the subject of back-and-forth submittals by RMI and responses from BLM since the federal agency issued a Notice of Noncompliance in August 2022 over permit compliance problems in quarry operations.

The rockslide prompted two other agencies to step in with enforcement actions: the U.S. Mine Safety and Healthy Administration (MSHA) and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety (DRMS).

All three agencies called on RMI to submit a geotechnical report that would explain the cause of the slide and, more importantly, pose options for stabilizing the slope.

That report, prepared by Kilduff Underground Engineering of Denver and completed in August 2023, proposes mining the limestone layer for hundreds of feet upslope from the quarry, essentially stabilizing the slope by removing it.

Now, in an April 19, 2024, letter, BLM has given RMI 30 days to “incorporate the geotechnical information into the Plan Modification and submit a revised Plan Modification.”

The BLM letter gives added direction to RMI for its Plan Modification submittal, asking the mining company to:

  • Describe how it plans to stabilize the slope.
  • Address slope stabilization requirements set forth by MSHA and Colorado DRMS.
  • Provide details about the “location and extent of new ground disturbance” proposed to meet MSHA and DRMS requirements.
  • Identify all changes to the proposed Plan Modification compared to its April 2023 version.
  • Explain how its proposed plan will comply “with all federal and state laws related to environmental protection and protection of cultural resources.”

The letter concludes with this statement: “Absent this information, the BLM cannot process the Plan Modification, which will require the preparation of an analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

It is not clear what the consequences would be for RMI’s quarry operations if BLM “cannot process” the Plan Modification.

In a May 15, 2023, letter to RMI, the agency noted that a public review and comment process “must occur” before BLM would make an approval decision on the company’s proposed Plan Modification.

Previous letters from the agency to RMI have noted that failure to comply with BLM orders could lead the agency to issue a suspension order for all or part of the quarry operation.

RMI has only been allowed to operate in less than half of the quarry area since the January 2023 rockslide.

Download the April 19 letter from BLM to RMI here.

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