April 2003, VOL. 21, NO. 1
IMCC Fall Business Meeting to be Held in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The 2003 Fall Business Meeting of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) is scheduled to be held November 18-19 at La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
IMCC’s standing committee meetings will meet all day on Tuesday, November 18 and continue the morning of Wednesday, November 19. The Executive Commission Business Meeting will also take place on Wednesday, November 19, following the committee meetings.
More information regarding the meeting and registration will be mailed to IMCC member states in September and will be included in a later issue of The Compact. Contact: Beth A. Botsis, phone: 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: email@example.com.
Louisiana Hosts IMCC’s 2003 Annual Meeting
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) held its 2003 Annual Meeting March 30-April 2 at Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Approximately 50 people were in attendance. Along with state government representatives from IMCC member and nonmember states, there were several federal government and industry representatives in attendance.
An evening welcoming reception kicked off the Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 30. On the morning of March 31, Commissioner James Welsh of Louisiana’s Office of Conservation in the Department of Natural Resources welcomed attendees to the state of Louisiana. Following the welcome, speakers and topics heard during the General Session included: Jeffrey Jarrett, Director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining who spoke on “The Next 25 Years Under SMCRA – Challenges Facing the States and OSM”; Roger Hornberger of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spoke on “Recent Advances in Mine Drainage Prediction Techniques Under the ADTI”; Jimmy Lyles of Southern Services spoke on “Abandoned Mine Land Issues in Louisiana”; and a panel consisting of Jeffrey Jarrett, Harold Quinn of the National Mining Association, and Paul Ehret of the Bureau of Resource Regulation, Indiana Department of Natural Resources spoke on “Reauthorization of the AML Program Under SMCRA: Perspectives from the Primary Players”.
IMCC Standing Committees met throughout the day on Tuesday, April 1 and the morning of Wednesday, April 2. The Annual Awards Banquet took place on Tuesday evening, during which winners of the Annual National Reclamation Awards and Annual Minerals Education Awards were recognized. Several award winners were in attendance. The meeting concluded around Noon on Wednesday, April 2 with the Executive Commission Annual Business Meeting.
IMCC Recognizes Winners of 2003 Minerals Education Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recognized the winners of its 2003 Minerals Education Awards during the Annual Awards Banquet held Tuesday, April 1 at Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. 2003 marked the fifth year of IMCC’s education awards program. Awards are presented each year in two categories: the mining awareness educator category and the public outreach category. In addition to this year’s winners, three honorable mentions were presented in the mining awareness educator category, and two honorable mentions were presented in the public outreach category.
This year the mining awareness educator award was presented to Dr. Mary Quillen of Blacksburg, Virginia. Dr. Quillen teaches at Virginia Tech and is an innovative and creative educator in the areas of mining and minerals education. She began over six years ago with a vision of bringing mining and minerals education into as many classrooms in the Commonwealth of Virginia as possible. That vision led to development of a two week summer institute called, “From Coal to Electricity”. The program accommodates up to twenty teachers each summer and exposes them to many aspects of mining, reclamation, and energy. Dr. Quillen coordinates a large number of volunteers from mining companies, regulatory agencies, power companies, railroads, as well as mining engineering professors and others involved in minerals and mining. In addition to the classroom portion of the institute, teachers experience numerous field trips to mines, reclamation projects, machine shops, and power plants in order to get a first hand feel for the processes of mining coal and coal usage from start to finish.
Teachers who complete the institute are required to take what they have learned to create lesson plans and develop innovative and concrete ways of sharing their acquired knowledge with their students (two of Dr. Quillen’s participants have won IMCC’s educator award in past years). Dr. Quillen is a strong believer in hands-on, minds-on education. The institute is offered to teachers each summer at no cost and is funded by sponsor contributions acquired by Dr. Quillen. Dr. Quillen is currently working with the U.S. Department of Energy to expand and create similar programs in other states.
The 2003 public outreach award was presented to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological Survey, and the University of Akron, Department of Geology for their “Ohio Mineral Industries and the Environment Workshops, North and South.” Conducted annually since 1986, the workshops familiarize teachers with Ohio geology, the importance of Ohio’s fuel and nonfuel mineral industries, and how mining economic mineral resources can be compatible with environmental protection. Workshop participants use an inquiry-based method of learning to discover the issues surrounding mining and reclamation and to develop a greater knowledge base about mining and Ohio’s mineral resources. They learn how Ohio’s mineral resources can be produced in an environmentally sound manner and that mined land can be restored to an attractive, valuable, and productive land use. The workshops are a result of partnerships between government, academia, and industry.
They bring together the experience and training of professional geologists in the ODNR, the University of Akron, and the private sector. Personnel from a wide variety of mining companies and regulatory/enforcement personnel with ODNR, Division of Mineral Resources Management provide additional workshop instruction. Grants from several associations provide funding for costs associated with field trips and educational materials. Several mining companies also fund tuition fees for workshop participants. As a result of the workshops, 423 elementary through high school teachers have earned graduate or undergraduate credit through the University of Akron, and by the end of the 2002/2003 school year an estimated 184,380 students will have benefitted from the practical information presented to teachers.
Honorable mentions in the educator awareness category were awarded to: Elaine Ferguson, Principal, and Suzanne Waltman, 4th Grade Teacher, both of Amherst Elementary School (Ohio), and Cinda Farris, Science Teacher at Holy Family School (Illinois). Honorable mentions in the public outreach category went to: Caterpillar, Inc., Mining Construction Equipment Division (Illinois), and The Arundel Corporation, Havre De Grace Quarry (Maryland).
IMCC Recognizes Winners of 2003 National Reclamation Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) presented its 2003 National Reclamation Awards at the Annual Awards Banquet held Tuesday, April 1 at Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Named after IMCC’s charter executive director, the Kenes C. Bowling National Mine Reclamation Awards are presented each year to mining operations in the coal and noncoal categories that have demonstrated excellence in reclamation based on achievement in five categories: compliance; contemporaneous reclamation; drainage control; bond release (or reclamation success); and innovativeness. This year an award was also presented to a coal company that has been found to be deserving of special recognition as a small operator. This award has recently been renamed in memory of long time friend and Arkansas governor’s representative of many years, Floyd G. Durham who passed away in 2001.
The winner of the 2003 Kenes C. Bowling reclamation award in the coal category is Tri State Leasing Corporation (operator for Alliance Coal Corporation) for its Whitley Fork Mine, located in Wise County in Appalachia, Virginia. Whitley Fork Mine is a remining operation which profitably mined coal while reclaiming 26,000 linear feet of highwalls and other environmental problems on pre-surface mining reclamation law abandoned mine lands (AML) in Virginia. The operation demonstrates that remining can eliminate health and safety hazards, and provide economic stability. Not only has the operation reduced the number of acres of abandoned mine lands in Virginia (which currently stands at more than 71,000 acres of land in the coalfield counties, including approximately 405 miles of previously mined highwalls), it has also freed up AML moneys that will now be available to address other AML sites in need of reclamation. The operation, which was started in 1998, consists of surface contour, finger ridge, and auger operations.
The permit was issued on September 14, 1998 and annually employed 50-55 people. Coal production during the life of the 388 acre permit exceeded 1.4 million tons, which ranks the site as one of the top producers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Excellent ground cover has been established and the site has been transformed from its premined condition into an aesthetically pleasing and productive piece of property. The site was converted to a post-mining land use of unmanaged forest and light industrial (consisting of several gas wells, pipelines, and access roads). Efficient spoil handling enabled the operation to take the cuts needed to maximize coal recovery and generate enough spoil to accomplish the reclamation of both post and pre-mining disturbances. Deer, turkey, bear, and other wildlife are frequently seen on the reclaimed areas of the permit. In an effort to maintain land values after mining is finished, Penn Virginia has begun a reforestation program to minimze the time from mining to harvesting a crop of timber. Tri State leasing and Penn Virginia are working cooperatively with the forestry department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) to conduct research.
Following VPI’s recommendations, Tri State Leasing Corporation proposed a regrading scheme to minimize compaction of the soil thus making a better medium for tree survival and growth. With continued cooperation between the land owner, coal company, and educational institutions, remining will continue to eliminate environmental problems, improve the productivity of the land, and provide economic stability to the coalfields of southwest Virginia.
The winner of the 2003 Kenes C. Bowling reclamation award in the noncoal category is Kyanite Mining Corporation’s Baker Mountain Mine. This large operation covered 232 acres of 740.5 under permit. To date, final reclamation has been achieved on 180.4 acres. All reclamation has been done according to the post mining land use approved for the operation: development of a wildlife habitat. Mining operations at the facility began in the mid 1920's and ceased in 1979. Since that time, the plant has been used to calcine kyanite until being idled in March of 2002. Mullite has been milled and bagged for shipping at this facility for over half a century. Kyanite and mullite are used in the manufacture of high temperature ceramics and electrical porcelains. A great deal of process waste was produced in the beneficiation of the kyanite ore consisting of sand, clay, and pyrite. Shortly after mining began, the company developed a disposal system for these wastes that utilized a series of tailing ponds which separated the solids from the process water and provided storage for the wastes. Over time, the tailings ponds spread out over a relatively large area.
The main pond was constructed in an impounded stream and covered an area of approximately 60 acres that stretched nearly a mile in length. Because the area served as the accumulation site for the plant’s tailings until quarrying operations ceased in 1979, the stream and much of its watershed were completely filled with tailings. Due to the relatively high sulfur content of pyrite, a considerable acid mine drainage problem developed due to the increased oxidation rate provided for by the exposed materials. In the late 1980's it was determined that wetlands could be used to reclaim the soft, acidic soils in the tailings pond. In 1991, the up-stream area of the pond was converted into 26 individual wetland cells by small dams that were constructed across the width of the pond. The wetland cells were seeded with cattails, bulrush and horsetail plants, and have been extremely successful in treating the water flowing through that area. Prior to reclamation of the upper pond area, the water flowing through that area had an average pH of 4.0. Upon completion of the project and establishment of the wetland vegetation, the pH leaving the system averaged 8.5. The Baker Mountain Mine is located in a rural environment.
The rolling hills surrounding the mine consist of farms, forests, streams, and lakes. The habitat that has been established provides excellent food and cover for quail, turkey, waterfowl, deer, and a host of other species. A local bird club has used the area for several birding trips and has identified a wide variety of songbirds and waterfowl in areas that used to be barren mine spoils. The post mining land use chosen for this site not only compliments the surrounding environment, but will provide both ecologic and economic value for the local community and the company.
The winner of the Floyd G. Durham Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Reclamation by a Small Operator is R and S Coal Company for its R and S #2 Mine. The permit to mine low-volatile bituminous coal at R and S #2 Mine was issued on July 24, 1989. A 900 foot long pre-law abandoned mine pit and adjacent spoils and highwall have been reclaimed at the site through remining. Final reclamation of the site began in June of 2001. Most of the backfilling and grading were completed by the end of 2001, but a slow coal market kept final reclamation from being completed because the coal stockpile remnant was to be buried in the final pit. In February 2002 all the coal was finally sold and the coal stockpile buried. Final grading and topsoil respreading were slowed by heavy rains in March and April. This work was completed by June and the area was seeded with bermudagrass. The post-mining land use is bermudagrass pasture and the eastern 21.11 acres received a Phase III bond release on October 4, 2002. This remining area has already developed a fair to good cover of bermudagrass. The area was limed and had an application of poultry litter applied before the seed was broadcast.
Also receiving recognition for honorable mention were the following companies in the coal category: Peabody Coal Company, Randolph Preparation Plant, Wheelpit Wetland (Illinois); Bridgeview Coal Company, Inc., SMP 26950102 Mine (Pennsylvania); Holmes Limestone Company, Thomas Operations (Ohio); Wood Coal Company, Foster Mine #2 (Missouri); Catenary Coal Company, Samples Mine Complex (West Virginia); TXU Mining Company LP, Big Brown, Martin Lake, Oak Hill, Monticello, and Thermo Mines (Texas); Squaw Creek Coal Company, Squaw Creek Mine Permit S-009 (Indiana); Whymore Coal Company 861-0475, Bryants Store Mine (Kentucky); and Swenglish & Sons, Inc., Government Financed Construction Contract #26-01-02 (Pennsylvania).
Honorable mentions in the noncoal category were presented to the following: LaFarge Corporation, Shalersville Operations (Ohio); Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Company, Mayfield Mine (Kentucky); Town of North Hempstead, Morewood Property (New York); Maryland Rock Industries, Inc., Clark-Green Acres Mine (Maryland).
IMCC Sponsors Congressional Staff Briefings on AML Program
Member states of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) joined with members of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) to sponsor two Congressional staff briefings on April 24 in Washington, D.C. to present an overview of the states’ implementation of their Abandoned Mine Land (AML) programs under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The states addressed the myriad accomplishments that have occurred over the past 25 years in terms of dangerous highwalls that have been reclaimed; open shafts and adits that have been closed; landslides that have been abated; drinking water systems that have been restored; and mine fires that have been extinguished. Given that the authority to collect fees from the coal mining industry to support the AML program will expire on September 30, 2004, the states also provided their recommendations for legislative adjustments that would ensure the integrity and continuation of the AML program over the next several years as the states strive to address the high priority AML problems that remain. A copy of the states’ legislative concept paper and accompanying resolutions are available from IMCC. Contact: Gregory E. Conrad, phone: 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMCC Adopts Revisions to Strategic Plan
At its recent annual meeting in New Orleans, the member states of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) adopted revisions to the organization’s strategic plan. In fulfilling its vision of being “an advocate for the member states” in an effort to “assist the states in fulfilling the dual responsibilities of assuring development of their abundant and strategically important natural resources while protecting and improving the environment”, IMCC identified several key goals which include: establishing an ongoing mechanism for information exchange and benchmarking to enhance state regulatory program improvement; enhancing partnership opportunities for the states through active involvement in national issues surrounding mineral extraction; enhancing existing liaison functions with federal government agencies on Capitol Hill; increasing automation capabilities of the Compact to better serve the member states in data and information exchange; improving interaction and working relationships with other, non-member states and their constituencies; and developing a more effective liaison and communication network with member state Governors’ offices and other state government organizations. Copies of the full strategic plan are available from IMCC.
IMCC Adopts Resolution on Mine Mapping
In response to recent incidents involving abandoned underground mines, including the Que Creek innundation in Pennsylvania, the Martin County surface impoundment failure in Kentucky and several blowouts of water from underground mines throughout Appalachia, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) adopted a resolution at its annual meeting in New Orleans calling for increased funding to support state abandoned underground mine mapping efforts. Noting that there is a need to obtain, digitize and accurately locate available mine maps by georeferencing them to the precise area of the coal seam where mining has occurred, IMCC encouraged the affected federal agencies (which include the Office of Surface Mining and the Mine Safety and Health Administration) to provide leadership and technical assistance to states that will maximize mapping efforts while minimizing duplication. IMCC also encouraged the federal agencies to focus and direct the maximum coordination necessary to accomplish appropriate assistance to states in mapping all coal seams where mining has occurred. A copy of the resolution is available from IMCC. Contact: Gregory E. Conrad, phone: 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: email@example.com.