The extraction of noncoal minerals by quarrying is a basic, essential and vital industry making an important contribution to the economic well-being of West Virginia. From the small family-owned chert pit to the multinational limestone quarry, quarry aggregate production plays a vital role in West Virginia's economy and the quality of life for its residents; it is in the public interest to insure the availability and orderly development of mineral resources; aggregate minerals are necessary components in many construction activities, without fine and coarse aggregates, it would be impossible to build or maintain the state roadways and airports, with every type of significant construction activity being dependant on the availability and reasonable costs of aggregate minerals and aggregate mineral products; it is not practical to extract minerals required by our society without disturbing the surface of the earth and producing waste materials, and the very character of quarry operations precludes complete restoration of the land to its original condition.
This article also provides requirements intended to protect wildlife and prevent the pollution to the environment surrounding quarries, including rivers, streams, groundwater, aquifers and lakes, to prevent and eliminate hazards to health and safety, to protect all property owners' property rights, and to provide for reclamation of quarried areas so as to assure the continued use and enjoyment of these lands after quarrying is completed;
Further, certain areas in the state are inappropriate for quarry mining while in most locations of West Virginia, quarrying can be conducted in a fashion to prevent these undesirable conditions, while allowing for mining of valuable minerals.
Therefore, the Legislature finds that the quarrying of minerals and reclamation of quarry lands as provided by this article will allow the use of valuable minerals and will provide for the protection of the state's environment and for the subsequent beneficial use of the quarry and reclaimed land.