U.S. Bureau of Land Management Permit Enforcement


When Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI) first purchased the quarry operation in 2016, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials informed the company that several compliance problems carried over from the previous mine operator, CalX Minerals.

BLM gave RMI a temporary pass on dealing with permit violations. The agency agreed that the violations could be remedied “within a reasonable amount of time.”

In 2018, RMI announced plans for a massive expansion, proposing a 20-year plan to mine 321 acres. The controversial plan included proposed remedies for the longstanding permit violations.

In 2019, BLM accepted RMI’s mine expansion proposal. The agency also planned to resolve permit violations at the same time as reviewing the expansion plan. BLM also initiated two measures:

A mineral examination, also called a Determination of Common Variety, to evaluate two aspects of the mining proposal: the chemical composition of the limestone deposit across the proposed mining area, and the prospects for RMI to market the limestone for a narrow range of purposes allowed under the Mining Act of 1872.

An escrow account for RMI to deposit mineral royalty payments that could be required for any limestone sales that did not qualify under the Mining Law of 1872.

• $1.30 per ton for crushed limestone
• $1.50 per ton for rip-rap
• $3.00 per ton for limestone boulders
• $0.51 per ton for crusher fines

By 2020, RMI’s push for fast-track approval of the expansion slowed to a snail’s pace. Mining continued at the quarry, and the longstanding permit violations continued.

BLM initiates enforcement action in 2022

After six years of out-of-compliance mining operations, BLM cited RMI in 2022 for failing to address compliance problems.

On Aug. 30, 2022, BLM sent a Noncompliance Order and a separate Notice of Noncompliance to RMI, citing five compliance issues at the quarry.

The Noncompliance Order cited four issues:

  • Grading and sloping for the mill site and the lower access road are not “within the authorized area in the approved plan of operations.” (See aerial map at right.)
  • The current highwall portion of the quarry does not comply with the approved plan.
  • Stormwater structures have been constructed outside the approved area.
  • The mill bench topsoil storage pile is inadequate for future site reclamation and not properly graded.

The separate Notice of Noncompliance focused on RMI’s occupancy of the limestone mill facility. The mill sits at the foot of the quarry and is outside the permit boundary.

Enforcement action leads to back-and-forth between BLM and RMI

RMI submitted a modified plan of operations on Oct. 7, 2022. After reviewing the plan, BLM deemed it incomplete.

RMI submitted a second plan of operations proposal on Jan. 6, 2023.

While BLM officials were reviewing the second submission for completeness, a massive slope collapse occurred at the quarry on Jan. 18, 2023.

BLM issued an Amended Noncompliance Order to RMI on March 6, 2023. It stated: “Because the operation’s current conditions substantially deviate from the approved plan of operations, BLM has determined that this is a significant violation of its surface management regulations.”

RMI submitted a third plan modification proposal in April 2023. In May 2023, BLM deemed the plan complete except for the absence of a required geotechnical report, needed to address the changed conditions at the quarry following the Jan. 18 slope collapse.

RMI submitted the geotechnical report on Aug. 30, 2023. After reviewing the document, BLM said it intended to ask RMI for more information. As of March 2024, BLM’s pending communications with RMI are undergoing internal agency review.

Find a summary of the Kilduff Underground Engineering geotechnical report, along with links to the report and its appendices, on this page.

January 2024: Long-awaited mineral examination completed, escrow pay-out required

BLM staff geologists began work on the Determination of Common Variety report in 2019. The agency completed the report in January 2024.

The agency concluded: “BLM has determined that a majority of the material is not disposable under the Mining Law of 1872 because of being marketed for common purposes.”

Learn about the DCV report here.

BLM issued a letter to RMI on Jan. 25, 2024, requiring RMI to tally the funds in the escrow account by Feb. 20, 2024, and remit payment within 30 days for all mined material that did not qualify for protections under the Mining Law of 1872.

In March 2024, the Citizens’ Alliance filed a Freedom of Information Act request to BLM for information about the required escrow payout. BLM acknowledged the request, but to date, has not delivered any information.

April 2024: BLM renews permit noncompliance enforcement action

In an April 19, 2024, letter, BLM gave 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 red cross-hatched area layered onto this aerial photo shows the boundaries of the limestone quarry as authorized in RMI’s federal permit.

The lower bench of the quarry, the mill facility and the lower access road (to the left of the permitted access road) are all outside the federal permit boundary.

Image from U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 2022

Timeline of BLM enforcement actions

August 30, 2022: BLM issues Notice of Noncompliance and Noncompliance Order.

October 7, 2022: RMI submits first proposed Plan Modification, BLM starts 30-day review.

November 9, 2022: BLM deems proposed Plan Modification incomplete, issues letter to RMI ordering a new submission with greater detail.

January 6, 2023: RMI submits second proposed Plan Modification, BLM starts second 30-day review.

January 18, 2023: Quarry slope collapse occurs.

February 3, 2023: BLM deems second proposed Plan Modification incomplete due to “changed conditions” caused by slope collapse, issues interim letter to RMI.

March 6, 2023: BLM issues Amended Noncompliance Order, calling quarry operations “a significant violation” of BLM regulations.

March 7, 2023: BLM confirms that RMI’s second proposed Plan Modification is incomplete, issues letter ordering a new submission addressing slope collapse issues.

April 2023: RMI submits third proposed Plan Modification, but required geotechnical report is delayed until late May.

May 12, 2023: BLM deems third proposed Plan Modification complete, except for the absence of a required geotechnical report. BLM will delay its full review of the proposed plan until the geotechnical report is submitted.

August 30, 2023: RMI submits the geotechnical report. BLM begins a third review of the proposal and geotechnical report, on an open-ended timeframe.

Mid-September, 2023: BLM provides the geotechnical report to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS), with a plan for the three agencies to consult on a monthly basis.

Late October, 2023: BLM informs the Citizens’ Alliance that it plans to ask RMI for more details on its third plan modification proposal as it relates to the geotechnical report.

January 12, 2024: BLM completes the Determination of Common Variety, determining “that a majority of the material is not disposable under the Mining Law of 1872 because of being marketed for common purposes.”

January 25, 2024: BLM issues letter to RMI requiring the company to tally the funds in its escrow account by Feb. 20 and to remit to BLM within 30 days the escrowed payments for all sales that don’t qualify under the Mining Law of 1872.

April 19, 2024: BLM issues a letter requesting Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI) to submit a revised Plan Modification for its current quarry operations within 30 days.

Enforcement process documents archive

BLM Noncompliance Order 3809, Aug. 30, 2022
This document cites the four problem areas in RMI’s current quarry operations

BLM Notice of Noncompliance 3715, Aug. 30, 2022
This document focuses on the crusher mill being located outside the mine permit area.

BLM response to RMI’s 1st proposed Plan Modification, Nov. 9, 2022

BLM response to RMI’s 2nd proposed Plan Modification, Feb. 3, 2023

BLM Amended Noncompliance Order, March 6, 2023

BLM revised response to RMI’s 2nd proposed Plan Modification, March 7, 2023

RMI’s geotechnical report, prepared by Kilduff Underground Engineering, Aug. 30, 2023

Click here for Determination of Common Variety report documents, Jan. 25, 2024

BLM letter to RMI calling for revised Plan Modification submittal within 30 days, April 19, 2024

Stay informed about the public review process

BLM is handling its new effort to bring RMI quarry operations into compliance as a “major plan modification with a limited scope.”

Because this is a “major modification,” revisions to the plan of operations will be subject to a public review process.

Stay informed about the process.

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We’ll keep you informed about when and how to engage in the public review process.

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