CHARLESTON, W.Va. ─ Shining a bright light on the incredible environmental stewardship in the coal industry, state regulators recognized a host of West Virginia mining operations for their reclamation and environmental stewardship during the 2018 West Virginia Mining Symposium.
The reclamation awards were announced Jan. 31 at the Charleston Civic Center, where the West Virginia Coal Association held its 45th annual symposium. Inspectors with the state Department of Environmental Protection selected the winners, and DEP Secretary Austin Caperton handed out the awards.
“Today’s awards are proof that those in the coal industry are the best, most dedicated environmentalist out there,” said Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “We appreciate DEP’s recognition of the incredible work our members are doing to reclaim mine sites and protect the natural beauty of West Virginia. They prove that we can mine coal that powers America and provides feedstock for steel mills.”
The top award – the Greenlands Award, went to Southeastern Land LLC for its work at the Twin Branch Surface Mine. Reclamation involved the redesign of the mining operation dramatically to lower its potential impacts to jurisdictional waters. The company worked with officials in Mingo and Logan counties, allowing excess overburden to be stored on an adjacent area while mining was in progress to help avoid stream disturbance. Additionally, the company and county officials changed the post-mining land use for the permit to include forest land and development of the Twin Branch Motorsports Complex, which includes a drag strip designed with the assistance of the International Hot Rod Association.
Other reclamation award winners are:
Water Treatment and Environmental Protection Award: Coal-Mac LLC, Phoenix No. 4 selenium bioreactor
This award is for the innovative design and construction of one of the state’s first non-mechanical selenium treatment systems that has proven particularly effective in the passive removal of selenium from a surface mine discharge.
Outstanding Overall Reclamation of a Surface Mine Award: Hampden Coal LLC, Poundmill Highwall Miner Surface Mine
This reclamation of a highwall mining operation included innovative storage and protection of existing topsoil that was reapplied quickly after the highwall miner finished extraction of the two coal seams and regrading was completed. The operation used an existing road cut fill, did not require the construction of any valley fills, and mining avoided two small jurisdictional channels on the contour excavation.
Good Neighbor/Community Involvement Award: Arch Coal, Leer Mine Complex
This award is for the company’s attention to detail and commitment to public involvement and reducing the impact from a substantial underground mining and coal preparation complex to the surrounding community. Work included the installation of an innovative centrifugal ventilation fan surrounded by sound-deadening insulation to reduce noise impacts to the adjacent Tygart State Park.
AML Reclamation Award: All-Con LLC, Canyon Refuse and Dump Facility.
Reclamation included rehabilitation of sites near Cheat Lake in Monongalia County that included exposed highwalls, coal refuse sites, collapsed mine portals and abandoned buildings.
AML Emergency Award: Solid Rock Excavating, Crooked Run Landslide
Reclamation involved emergency response and remediation of a 200-feet long, 60-feet-wide landslide on a pre-law surface mining spoil area that damaged home foundations and septic systems. The work was completed in just one month, with no additional movement at the area.
Specialty Reclamation – Wetland Habitat/Ducks Unlimited Award: American Bituminous Partners, Barracksville Surface Mine
Reclamation included an innovative construction of a wetland area with revegetation planting in conjunction with the reclamation of a 214-acre surface mine in Marion County.
Turkey Habitat --National Wild Turkey Federation Award: Coal-Mac LLC, Phoenix Five Surface Mine
This award is for its commitment to maintain contemporaneous reclamation with special attention given to the post-mining land use that integrates development of wildlife habitat that benefits turkey, deer and other wildlife.
Coal Refuse Disposal Award: Blue Creek Mining, Blue Creek Mine and Preparation Complex
The award is for the design, construction and outstanding environmental performance in the ongoing operation of a coal preparation facility and coal refuse disposal area in Kanawha County.
Surface Mine Award: Patriot Mining Company LLC, Fort Grand Surface Mine
This award is for the reclamation of a 67-acre contour surface mine in Monongalia County in accordance with the landowner’s requests, which involved retention of three ponds that were modified with construction benches and piers and construction of a flat area for remote-controlled model airplane use.
Underground Mine Reclamation Awards:
- Arch Coal, Left Fork No. 1 Deep Mine
Reclamation involved a 26-acre underground mine in Webster County, including removal of mine-related infrastructure and backfilling, regrading and seeding of a three-face highwall mine entry area with zero violations during the reclamation process.
- Wolf Run Mining LLC, Imperial Mine
Reclamation included a 16-acre underground mine bench and entry area, including the installation of mine seals, the removal of underground support infrastructure and the backfilling and regrading of the area in accordance with the landowner’s requests.
Valley Fill Construction Award: Mid-Vol Coal Sales, Easter Ridge Surface Mine
This award is for the design and construction of a valley fill and sediment control structure in conjunction with the ongoing operation of a multi-seam surface mine in McDowell County.
Coal Refuse Facility Award: Panther Creek Mining LLC, Samples Complex
This award is for reclamation of a 218-acre coarse coal refuse disposal area in Kanawha County that included using the coal refuse material to eliminate highwalls from an adjacent surface mining area and restore the previously surface mined area to approximate original contour.
Remining Award: Pocahontas Coal LLC, Devil’s Backbone Surface Mine
Reclamation involved an AML-remining operation located on Tommy Creek in the headwaters of the Guyandotte River. Through active mining, the company was able to stabilize the highwalls, install appropriate runoff control and reclaim the area at no cost to the AML fund.