(a) All surface coal mining operations shall be subject to this article, except as excluded in Section 9-16-99.
(b) No person shall engage in or carry out on lands within the state any surface coal mining operations unless such person is a citizen of the United States or, if not a citizen of the United States, a person who is legally present in the United States with appropriate documentation from the federal government and has first obtained a license in accordance with this section. The term of a license shall be continuous and shall authorize the licensee, subject to the other provisions of this article, to engage in surface coal mining operations unless the license shall be suspended or revoked in accordance with this article. Suspension, revocation, or subcontracting shall in no way relieve the licensee of his or her obligation to comply with the reclamation requirement of this article.
(c) An applicant for a license shall file an application in a format prescribed by and satisfactory to the regulatory authority which shall contain, among other things, all of the following information:
(1) The name of the applicant and whether the applicant is an individual, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity.
(2) The legal address of the applicant for service of legal process or notice.
(3) If known, the names and addresses of the agents, subsidiaries, or independent contractors who may be engaged in surface coal mining on behalf of the applicant on land to be affected. Any agent, subsidiary, or independent contractor engaged by the applicant subsequent to issuance of a permit shall be identified to the regulatory authority within 30 days of its engagement. The utilization of an agent, subsidiary, or subcontractor shall not relieve the licensee of its responsibility under this article.
(4) If the applicant is a partnership, corporation, association, or other business entity, the following where applicable: The names and addresses of every officer, partner, director, or person performing a function similar to a director, of the applicant, together with the name and address of any person owning of record 10 percentum or more of any class of voting stock of the applicant and a list of all names under which the applicant, partner, or principal shareholder previously operated a surface mining operation within the United States within the five-year period preceding the date of submission of the application.
(5) All names under which the applicant and persons listed in the license application previously operated or is engaging in surface coal mining within the State of Alabama, or any other state.
(6) A statement of whether the applicant, any subsidiary, affiliate, or persons controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the applicant, or any partner of the applicant, if the applicant is a partnership, or any principal officer or director, if the applicant is a corporation, has ever held a federal or any state mining permit which in the five-year period prior to the date of submission of the application has been suspended or revoked or has had a mining bond or similar security deposited in lieu of bond forfeited and, if so, a brief explanation of the facts involved.
(d) The applicant, as a condition to obtaining a license, shall satisfy the regulatory authority, pursuant to reasonable standards and regulations to be promulgated by it, of the applicant's ability to comply with this article, which standards shall require the applicant to:
(1) Demonstrate that it has available to it sufficient technical skill to assure compliance with this article and the regulations adopted pursuant to this article.
(2) Demonstrate sufficient financial responsibility to reasonably assure the regulatory authority of the applicant's financial ability to execute the requirements of this article pursuant to regulations promulgated by the regulatory authority.
(3) Certify by notarized statement under oath that the applicant has read and is fully familiar with this article and with all reclamation requirements contained in this article and regulations promulgated by the regulatory authority.
(4) Certify that the applicant shall obtain and shall furnish the regulatory authority evidence of having obtained such permits as may be required prior to commencing operation under any permit which may be issued under this article to the applicant.
(e) The regulatory authority shall have 45 days to investigate and to consider the application and issue the license or an order denying its issuance, setting out deficiencies and reasons why the license was not issued and what corrective action should be taken.
(f)(1) The initial fee for a license shall be a reasonable amount as established by rule of the commission and shall be submitted with the application. Licenses shall be updated annually upon payment of an annual license update fee, in a reasonable amount as established by the commission, and compliance with any applicable rules of the commission.
(2) A licensee with a valid license issued by the Alabama Surface Mining Reclamation Commission prior to the effective date of this article and who intends to conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations pursuant to this article shall reapply to the regulatory authority for a license within 90 days of the effective date of this article. The fee for such application shall be two hundred dollars ($200) and shall be in lieu of the initial licensing fee. The license shall be granted provided that no prior licensee shall be eligible to receive a license until all outstanding and delinquent fines, fees, penalties, or other debts owed to the Alabama Surface Mining Reclamation Commission by the prior licensee shall have been paid in full to the regulatory authority. Licenses may be granted with specific conditions or restrictions.