Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Opencut Mining

Program Overview

The Opencut Section reviews permit and amendment applications within its statutory timeframe to ensure Opencut minerals (bentonite, clay, scoria, soil materials, peat, sand or gravel) are extracted in accordance with the act and rules to ensure adequate protection of environmental resources and successful reclamation of the affected land back to a productive post-mining land use.

If you believe you need a permit, applicable forms and instructions can be found by clicking the "Permitting and Operator Assistance" button. Contact us if you have questions or run into problems with any of the information. We're here to help!

Opencut Permits & Locations

To review the permit for an existing Opencut site, click the button below to visit DEQ's data portal where you can search Opencut permits.

Search Opencut Permits

Permitted Opencut site locations may be viewed using DEQ's web mapping application. Click the button below to view the map. If you experience issues viewing the application, it may help to try a different browser. For information on how to use the application, please view the instructional video, How to Use Opencut's Web Mapping Application.

View Permitted Opencut Locations


Latest News

September 13, 2023

Dear Stakeholder,

We are writing with news about the Opencut Dryland Permit application which was made available online through FACTS on May 15th, 2023. Unfortunately, the online Dryland Permit application will no longer be supported in FACTS.  Therefore, DEQ will no longer accept applications through FACTS starting on Friday, September 15th.

Any future submissions of Dryland Permit applications must be on the Word document application found on the DEQ website under “Opencut Mining Forms”. This includes applications that have already been submitted through FACTS but have not yet been approved. If you have an application for a Dryland Permit in FACTS that has not been approved and would like assistance with transferring data from FACTS to the Word document form, please send an email to requesting help with that task by October 6th, 2023. You will be contacted within a few days to discuss the next steps in that process.

Although this is a temporary setback, our goal is to eventually have all Opencut applications available for online submittal. DEQ will continue to work towards making this a reality but is currently taking time to reassess our strategy in order to ensure that any future online applications have long-term viability. DEQ appreciates the time taken by operators to provide feedback on the online application portal and will engage stakeholders in our next steps.  

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please contact Whitney Bausch at (406)444-3403 with any questions or concerns.

Stakeholders Group: The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled for April 17th, 2024, at 10:30 AM in room 111 of the Metcalf Building, 1520 East 6th Avenue, Helena.  There will also be an option to join virtually via Zoom (see link and information below).



  • Introductions
  • DEQ Update and Discussion
    • Staffing Update
    • Bonding 101
    • Annual Production Reports
    • Proposed Changes to Applications
      • Optional MEPA Questions
      • Dryland Application: Add Section C1 from the Standard Application
    • Update on Action Items from Last Meeting
      • Hyperlinks to Permits on WMA – Done
      • Simplifying bond releases in non-bonded areas – Done
      • Guide to paying online – Done and posted in Permitting and Operator Assistance
      • Guidance/template for public notice – In progress
    • Pending Bond Release Requests
      • Materials submitted may require explanation
  • Stakeholder Input
  • Planning for Next Meeting
    • Action Items
    • Future meeting topics
    • Next meeting date




Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Passcode: 730016

Or Telephone:
    +1 206 337 9723 US (Seattle)

Webinar ID: 851 8632 0242
Passcode: 730016


The minutes from the April 17, 2024 meeting can be found here: April 17, 2024 Opencut Mining Stakeholder Meeting Minutes

Annual Production Reports (APR) for 2022 were mailed January 3, 2023.

2022 APR's will be due March 1, 2023.

The Notice of Adoption and Amendment of Opencut Mining rules was published in the Montana Administrative Register (MAR) Issue 19 on October 7th, 2022. The Notice of Adoption and Amendment of Opencut Mining rules can be found on pages 47-55.

The Notice (MAR Notice 17-425) can be found at the following link:

The Notice of Adoption and Amendment of the Opencut Mining rules addresses comments received by DEQ during the public comment period for the proposed rules that lasted from July 8th through August 8th, 2022, and during a public meeting held by DEQ on August 8th, 2022.

The Opencut Mining rules were updated on the Secretary of State’s website on October 7th, 2022.

Updated forms reflecting changes to the rules will be uploaded to the DEQ Opencut Mining website by close of business on October 11th. DEQ Opencut will continue to accept older forms until November 10th, 2022, after which operators and applicants will be required to submit documents to DEQ on the new forms.

Opencut Mining Contacts

Section Supervisor
Whitney Bausch (406) 444-3403

Unit Coordinator
J.J. Conner (406) 444-4979

Bond Questions/Program Support Specialist
Laura Hunn (406) 444-4949

Bond Questions/Program Support Specialist
Blayne Ehlke (406) 444-4936

Program Support Specialist - Kalispell
Elizabeth Smith (406) 755-8965

Reclamation Specialist
Bryan Allison (406) 444-4969

Reclamation Specialist
Carly Russell (406) 444-4796

Reclamation Specialist
Ruby Hopkins (406) 444-7444

Reclamation Specialist
Anne Spezia (406) 444-9786

Reclamation Specialist
Bailey Tasker (406) 444-6726

Reclamation Specialist
Madeline VerWey (406) 444-2885


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