SMARA Compliance Program Services
San Benito County
San Benito County has 17 surface mining operations ranging in scope from small operations producing specialty products to one of the largest mines in the state supplying the San Francisco peninsula and San Jose region with construction aggregates. Also located here are the only source of bentonite, a California-state gem, and historic production of asbestos.
For more than 10 years, the County has engaged Benchmark Resources to assist in its SMARA compliance program, involving annual mining inspections, financial assurance reviews, and various matters surrounding compliance with mining use permits and approved reclamation plans. In recent years, the contract has involved Benchmark acting as an extension of County staff, managing processing of mining and reclamation plan applications, completing environmental analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act, preparing staff reports, and presenting these matters at public hearings.
Benchmark Resources’ breath of experience in mining and reclamation throughout California was put to use in this environmentally diverse county with a wide diversity of mineral resources and a range of approaches to mining and reclamation.
Specifically, we provided the following assistance to the County:
- Benchmark updated and combined a legacy of permit approvals into a consolidated plan for mine reclamation.
- We guided the County and applicant through the final reclamation and closure process for a specialty clay mine, which included identifying geotechnical and sedimentation issues and coordinating a plan for the resolution of these issues, and
- Because of flooding issues at an off-channel alluvial aggregate operation, we are guiding the County through the process for amending the reclamation plan and conducting environmental analysis in order to meet the operator’s goal of closing the site. We were also hired to prepare a current financial assurance cost estimate for the site. We are working with the County and the operator to determine an end use compatible with the County General Plan and site.