Surface Mining and Reclamation


The State Mineralogist in 1893 said that “No portion of California has more diversified mineral wealth than the County of San Bernardino… In its rugged mountains and desert [expanse], are found a wide range of geological formations from Paleozoic to Tertiary, and a great variety of rocks of igneous origin… The mines are scattered all over its thousands of square miles of territory, and have already added millions of dollars to the wealth of the State and the world.”

The County recognizes that the extraction of minerals is essential to the continued economic well-being of California and to the needs of society and that reclamation of mined lands is necessary to prevent or minimize adverse effects on the environment and to protect the public health and safety.  The County also recognizes that surface mining takes place in diverse areas where the geologic, topographic, climatic, biological, and social conditions are significantly different and the specifications for reclamation vary accordingly. 

California’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 [pdf] (“SMARA”, Public Resources Code Section 2710 et seq.) and the State Mining and Geology Board Regulations [pdf] (“State Regulations” California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Division 2, Chapter 8, Subchapter 1 Section 3500 et seq.), requires that every surface mining operation subject to SMARA have an approved permit, reclamation plan and adequate financial assurances to ensure that the mined lands are successfully reclaimed to a condition that is beneficial for a subsequent land use.  The purpose and intent of SMARA is to ensure the continued availability of important mineral resources while regulating surface mining activities. 

In accordance with SMARA §2732.5, the absence of the County’s authorization on both private and public lands for a surface mining operation not subject to exemption is a violation of SMARA and may be subject to a public hearing.

View the list of all the mines currently active [pdf] in the County. 

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