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Water: Mineral Mining

Mineral Mining and Processing Effluent Guidelines

Photo of a crushed stone, sand and gravel plant

EPA promulgated the Mineral Mining and Processing effluent guidelines and standards (40 CFR Part 436) in 1975, and amended the regulation in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1995. The regulation covers wastewater discharges from mine drainage, mineral processing operations and stormwater runoff.  The Mineral Mining effluent guidelines and standards are incorporated into NPDES permits.


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What is Mineral Mining?

Mine operators extract minerals from underground mines, surface mines and quarries using machinery and explosives. Some extraction processes, such as stone quarries, may use large quantities of water. After extraction, many types of raw minerals are then subject to processes such as crushing, milling, washing and chemical treatments.

Wastewater is generated during mineral processing (e.g., stone cutting, wash water, scrubber water), from equipment cooling, from mine dewatering, and from stormwater runoff at mines and processing plants.

Note: Hard rock mining of metals (ores) is covered in the Ore Mining Effluent Guidelines, 40 CFR Part 440.

Facilities Covered

The Mineral Mining and Processing effluent guidelines apply to wastewater discharges from facilities in 21 subcategories covering extraction of a wide variety of minerals. Examples, with their corresponding North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes, are:

  • construction materials (e.g., stone, gypsum, asphalt, sand & gravel); NAICS 21231, 212319, 212321, 212399.
  • minerals used in the chemical & fertilizer industries (e.g., borax, potash, magnesium, phosphate); NAICS 212391, 212325, 212392.
  • miscellaneous minerals (e.g., barite, bentonite, graphite); NAICS 212393, 212325, 212399.

Note: the NAICS group listing is provided as a guide and does not define the coverage of the Mineral Mining regulations. For a complete list of mining processes and precise definitions of coverage, see the applicability sections in 40 CFR Part 436.

Rulemaking History

This publication includes technical documentation for the 1979, 1976 and 1975 final rules, and the basis for draft limitations in additional subcategories.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Mineral Mining and Processing Effluent Guidelines, please contact Ron Jordan, jordan.ronald@epa.gov or 202-566-1003.

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