March 2009, VOL. 27, NO. 1
IMCC 2009 Annual Meeting Scheduled for Anchorage, Alaska
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 2009 Annual Meeting will be held at The Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska from April 26 - 29, 2009.
A reception will kick off the meeting on the evening of Sunday, April 26. On Monday, April 27, a General Session will be held immediately followed by the joint meeting of the Mine Safety and Health and Noncoal Environmental Affairs Committees. An evening social and networking event is currently being planned.
On Tuesday, April, 28, the Abandoned Mine Lands and Coal Environmental Affairs Committees will meet jointly. IMCC’s Annual Awards Banquet is scheduled for that evening.
The Resolutions and Finance and Administrative Committee meetings will take place on the morning of Wednesday, April 29, followed by the Executive Commission Annual Business Meeting, which concludes the Annual Meeting.
Contact: Beth A. Botsis, Director of Programs at Ph: 703.709.8654 or E-Mail: email@example.com.
IMCC Announces Winners of 2009 National Reclamation Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently announced the recipients of its annual national reclamation awards. Named after the charter executive director of the Compact, 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.
The 2009 winner in the coal category is Peabody Energy and Black Beauty Coal Company, Viking Mine – Corning Pit (Permit S-308) located in Daviess County, Montgomery, Indiana. The 2009 winner in the noncoal category is Iluka Resources, Inc., Old Hickory Operation located in Dinwiddie County, Stony Creek, Virginia.
This year’s winner in the coal category, Peabody Energy and Black Beauty Coal Company, Viking Mine – Corning Pit is a truck/shovel coal mining operation which began in the year 1999 in an area located 5.5 miles south of Montgomery, Indiana. It was nominated by the Indiana Division of Reclamation for its overall success of all aspects of reclamation at the site, including soil replacement, reforestation, previously mined areas and reconstruction of county roads. Reclamation posed unique challenges considering the diversity of land-uses, the moderate to steep terrain, and the significant number of individual leased tracts. The reclamation was especially challenging given the diverse land use and soil capability requirements on each small parcel within the larger mining area. The productivity of reclaimed cropland was maximized by reclaiming the nonprime cropland areas to prime cropland standards, using a combination of soil replacement, slope design and revegetation management. The revegetation and erosion control plan included tillage, land leveling, quick growing cover crops, terraces with tile outlets, field perimeter buffers and meandering waterways established with native timber and limestone. The additional attention to the rooting media paid dividends for deep rooted row crops. Mixing of B&C soil horizons resulted in overall soil replacement depths of 6 to 7 feet. The increased depths provided additional water holding capacity and allowed for increased nutrients to deep rooting crops.
In the course of the reclamation county roads were redesigned to insure a much safer condition, with more moderate grades and vastly improved lines of site. In addition, the roads were widened with improved drainage and shoulder width. Reforestation efforts will provide both short term and long term benefits through habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and future timber products. Pre-mining forest conditions had been severely degraded by past harvesting practices. Consequently, new plantings will offer a better mix of valuable hard mast varieties. Natural stream restoration within the forested areas will improve aquatic habitat while decreasing sediment transport and maintaining water quality.
All of these factors benefitted the local community, contributed positively to downstream neighbors and provided sustainable use by future generations. As new ideas and techniques were learned, these have been incorporated into Black Beauty’s strategy’s for prime farmland reclamation. Working cooperatively with various universities in the Midwest new ideas and techniques were incorporated into Black Beauty’s strategies for prime farmland reclamation.
The 2009 winner in the noncoal category, Iluka Resources, Inc., Old Hickory Operation, is located in Dinwiddie County, Stony Creek, Virginia. Iluka Resources, Inc. is a large mineral sands operation. In 2008, annual production was 410,100 tons. The most important minerals extracted from the deposit are Ilmenite (a titanium mineral) and Zircon. The titanium is used to make a white pigment for coloring paints, plastics, cosmetics and other products, and the Zircon is used primarily in refractory applications and ceramic glaze. The permit area presently covers 3,762 acres and the bonded area covers 3,000 acres. The site was nominated by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy for the advanced reclamation work that has been achieved to date.
The company has achieved a three-year time frame from initial development to final reclamation. Pit development, mining, pond construction and initial tails placement can normally be accomplished within a year. Consolidation of the tails occurs over the next two years to complete the reclamation process. The company works to reclaim as much area as is disturbed on an annual basis. The large percentage of waste material (mineral sands only comprise 5-10% of the ore and the other 90-95% is waste material that must be disposed of), coupled with the high-clay content of the deposit, makes reclamation a particular challenge. The waste, or tailings, consists primarily of quartz sand and clay. The high-clay content of the tailings significantly slows the consolidation and dewatering process and required Iluka to utilize innovative reclamation techniques to successfully stabilize the material within a reasonable time frame. The tailings are disposed of in tailings impoundments constructed in the mine pits. An extensive system of pipelines is used throughout the mining process to maintain a closed-loop water recycling system.
Tailings ponds are utilized to solidify the sand and clay while decanting free water for re-use in the mining process. Co-disposal of sand and clay tailings is practiced at the operation. This successful technique has created a reclaimed land surface with a good sand/clay mixture for crop productivity. All disturbed areas are reclaimed to maximize productivity and future crop yields. In most areas the post mining land use is high quality pasture land. The mine is located in a rural, agricultural area and the reclamation work has returned mined land to a condition that compliments the surrounding fields and forests. Soil samples are taken to determine the need for soil amendments which consist of commercial fertilizers, lime and biosolids. Reclaimed areas are seeded with a mix that consists of Tall Fescue, Orchard Grass, Red Clover, Alfalfa, Annual Rye, German Millet and Kobe Lespedeza. This combination of grasses and soil amendments has resulted in a successful reclamation program. Reclaimed areas have produced a self sustaining and healthy vegetative cover that promises a productive future. Iluka has made a commitment to reclaim in a way that will maximize productivity when landowners are able to return their land to row crop agriculture. The company has worked closely with the Soil and Crop Department of Virginia Tech and has developed a formal reclamation protocol based on experience and research conducted at the mine site. Iluka has also helped fund and establish a ninety acre research farm operated by the Soil and Crop Department at Virginia Tech. The research will help to develop alternative methods and practices for reclaiming land disturbed by mining activities.
Also receiving recognition for honorable mention in the coal category is Texas Westmoreland Coal Company, Bobwhite Quail Release Project, located in Limestone, Leon, and Freestone Counties, Jewett, Texas.
The awards will be presented at a banquet being held in conjunction with the IMCC’s Annual Meeting, April 26 - 29, 2009, at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska.
For further information about the awards, contact Beth Botsis, Director of Programs, IMCC at 703/709-8654, fax 703/709-8655, or visit our website: www.imcc.isa.us.
IMCC Announces Winners of 2009 National Minerals Education Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently announced the recipients of its eleventh annual minerals education awards. Begun in 1999, the minerals education awards are presented each year in two categories: the mining awareness educator category and the public outreach category. The mining awareness educator award is presented to a teacher or school from one of the 24 member states of the IMCC that has achieved excellence in one or more of the following categories: provided educational outreach in an innovative manner that increases the level of understanding in the classroom and/or community about mining and its impacts; promoted environmental stewardship while enhancing the understanding of issues associated with mining and natural resource development; and/or created unique educational materials or curriculum demonstrating the production and/or use of minerals and associated environmental protection. The criteria can be met through classroom and/or out-of-classroom (i.e. field trips, mine tours, etc.) activities. The winner will receive a framed award certificate and a $500 gift certificate for classroom resource materials.
The public outreach award is presented to an industry, environmental, citizen or other group, or to a state government body, that has achieved excellence in one or more of the following categories: provided educational outreach in an innovative manner that increases the level of understanding in the community about mining and its impacts; promoted awareness of environmental stewardship associated with mining through active involvement of citizens; fostered cooperation and partnerships with diverse groups to achieve understanding; enhanced the understanding of issues associated with mining and natural resource development; and/or fostered public education through mine tours, visitor centers, community awareness days, career days, personnel volunteerism in the schools, maintaining adopt-a-school programs or education partnerships, or any other innovative initiative deemed deserving by the awards committee. The winner will be presented with an engraved plaque of recognition.
The winner in the educator awareness category for 2009 is Chuck Campbell, science teacher at Russellville High School in Rusellville, Arkansas. Mr. Campbell was nominated for his comprehensive Advanced Placement Environmental Science curriculum and his minerals educational activities with the Russleville Scout Troop. Geology concepts are woven throughout Mr. Campbell’s curriculum. In the ecosystem unit, students learn about plate tectonics, especially as it pertains to geologic history and biological evolution. Students are taught about the times and the forces involved in the deposition of fossil fuels. An entire unit is devoted to hardrock resources and is followed by a unit on fossil fuels and nuclear power. Students are taught how to identify a collection of metal ores common in the United States and are tested with a lab practical which includes a “Cookie Mining” lab and the extraction of pure copper from malachite by both chemical means and electroplating. A pyrometallurgy unit will hopefully be added once the school is able to acquire a kiln. Mr. Campbell teaches students about the geo-resources of Arkansas – including why, when, and how mineral deposits were formed in each of the six natural divisions of the state, and teaching about mine locations, mining techniques, and industrial processing of Arkansas’ geo-resources. Ability to identify the commodity minerals is tested in a lab practical.
Mr. Campbell’s class also examines the General Mining Law of 1872, the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). A lecture by a representative of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality regarding the ramifications of SMCRA and a recent National Geographic article on mountaintop removal mining are incorporated into the units on the laws and regulations and on environmental impacts of mining. The impact coal and other mining has had on our culture and the environment is discussed after listening to music and reading various literature that speaks about coal and mining. Energy policies of the past eight presidents are also compared and contrasted by the class, particularly focusing on identifying components that have remained stable from administration to administration and the policies that have changed over the years. The political, economic, and national defense ramifications for both hardrock and fuel imports are explored. The need for both the strategic oil reserve and defense national stockpile center are established by determining the commodities we need for industry and national defense and determining where these commodities are acquired. The techniques and technologies used in exploration and extraction of geo-resources is a major component of these two units. Throughout all of these units and the essay quizzes that follow, students are taught critical thinking. Mr. Campbell imparts a balance between the importance of mining and protecting the environment.
The winner in the public outreach category for 2009 is the “Colorado Reader” produced by the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture (CFA). The “Colorado Reader” is an eight-page student activity newspaper which is made available free of charge to Colorado educators. Teachers can subscribe online and the newspaper arrives packaged in classroom sets of 25 along with a four-page teacher’s guide. The “Colorado Reader” is published and distributed monthly during the school year. Each issue is developed to allow educators to teach their students about agriculture and natural resource topics and reinforces Colorado Content Standards. CFA has provided more than 5 million free copies of the “Colorado Reader”. On average 1,000 classrooms across the state subscribe to the series each year.
The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational corporation, was established in 1991 to promote agricultural literacy in Colorado. CFA was eager to partner with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to allow the Division to tell its story about the importance of mining, abandoned mine safety, and reclamation. Mining and agriculture are bound in that, “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined.” Beginning in 2003, each year the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture with support from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety have provided an issue specifically geared towards mining, mining history, the importance of mining, and reclamation. The issues are given to schools across Colorado and are also used by various partners and for mining education opportunities at fairs, exhibits, and other outreach events. Each issue enhances the understanding of mining and natural resource development.
Projects and materials developed by CFA are made available at no or minimal cost to Colorado educators thanks to funding derived from grants and donations. Other programs and publications initiated by CFA include: Activity Books, Activity Sheets, Internet based learning – Choices and Consequences, Science Teachers Conferences, Food, Land & People, and Summer Institute for Teachers.
An Honorable Mention in the Public Outreach Category is also being awarded this year to the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Coal Development for its Illinois Coal Education Program.
The minerals education awards will be presented at a banquet held in conjunction with the IMCC Annual Meeting, April 26 - 29, 2009 in Anchorage, Alaska.
For further information about the awards, contact Beth A. Botsis, Director of Programs, IMCC at 703/709-8654, fax 703/709-8655, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMCC Calls for Clarifications in House Coal Ash Bill
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) filed a statement with the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee recently requesting several clarifications concerning H.R. 493, the “Coal Ash Reclamation, Environment and Safety Act of 2009", which was the subject of a legislative hearing by the Subcommittee on February 12. “Our understanding is that H.R. 493 is targeted primarily at the safety and structural stability of coal ash impoundments throughout the Untied States,” IMCC noted. “We agree that this is a very important matter, but we have several concerns with the bill’s intended purposes and its potential impacts on the states.” Among the concerns IMCC identified with the bill were the scope of the term “covered wastes”; the funding mechanism for the additional state resources that will be required to permit and inspect coal ash impoundments; the potential for states to regulate in this area if they do not have approved programs under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act; and the importance of distinguishing between disposal of coal ash in landfills and impoundments and the placement of coal ash at active and abandoned mines. “The IMCC member states recognize that coal ash, in appropriate circumstances, can be successfully used in the reclamation of mines. We also are of the view that coal ash is only to be used at a mine in a manner that does not cause pollution and is protective of the environment and public health and safety.” Copies of IMCC’s statement are available by contacting Greg Conrad at email@example.com.
IMCC Identifies Key Hardrock AML Projects to Stimulate the Economy
Responding to a request by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for clean energy and natural resource proposals that would stimulate the economy and create green jobs, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs submitted a statement to the Committee in late December that identified a plethora of hardrock abandoned mine land reclamation projects that are “on the shelf” and ready for immediate funding. “The cleanup of inactive and abandoned hardrock mines across the country presents an opportunity to create jobs that will directly improve the environment in many ways,” the two state agency groups noted. “We believe that nationwide, upwards of $250 million could be spent over the next 18 - 24 months to address hardrock AML sites and thereby stimulate the economy.” Specific projects were identified in the states of South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and California. “In addition to the forecasts provided by these states regarding economic and job enhancements, it should be noted that, in general, for every dollar spent by the states on local construction, this translates to $2.70 that is spent in the local economy for things such as supplies and materials, local equipment rentals and operators, and employee support.” The two state groups also sent letters in February, following passage of the Economic Recovery Act, to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilscak urging them to work cooperatively with the states through existing partnerships to implement those portions of the Presidents’ economic recovery plan that are designated for the remediation of abandoned mine lands – some $100 million for the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.
Mining Law Reform Reintroduced in House
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall recently introduced the “Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009" (H.R. 699). Except for various dates throughout the bill, H.R. 699 is identical to the Mining Law reform bill introduced in the 110th Congress. That bill passed the House on November 1, 2007. Among other things, H.R. 699 would: impose an 8 percent net smelter return royalty on production from future hardrock mines on public lands and a 4 percent royalty on currently operating mines; establish an abandoned mine land cleanup fund; provide the Secretary of the Interior with significant discretion to disapprove mining projects; eliminate the current patenting process; and mandate the establishment of new environmental standards. A legislative hearing on the bill was held by the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee on February 26. A specific date for markup of the bill has not yet been set.
IMCC Plans for Benchmarking WOrkshop on Electronic Permitting and Mobile Computing
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) is in the initial stages of planning for its next benchmarking workshop. The next in a series of workshops that have been developed and facilitated by IMCC will focus on electronic permitting systems developed by several key states and the federal government, along with the mobile computing technologies that support E-permitting. Among the topics to be addressed at the workshop are system components; platforms used by the various states; how maps are handled; electronic signatures; review of permits by multiple agencies; tracking systems; and various mobile computing devices and equipment. The workshop will be held in late October in the Chicago area. For further information as it becomes available, check IMCC’s website at www.imcc.isa.us and click the “Conference info.” tab, or contact Beth Botsis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMCC Schedules "Summit of the States on the Regulation of Noncoal Minerals"
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) will hold a “Summit of the States on the Regulation of Noncoal Minerals” on November 17 and 18 in Denver, Colorado in conjunction with IMCC’s Mid-Year Meeting, which will be held on November 18 and 19 in the same location. Among the topics to be discussed during the summit are: implementing effective regulatory programs at the state level; building support for state programs; interacting with interested and affected constituencies; technical issues associated with the state noncoal regulatory programs; key regulatory program issues (i.e. financial assurance and reclamation of inactive and abandoned mine lands); and the need for a national minerals policy. The Summit will run for a day and a half and is intended for those in state agencies who are responsible for overseeing the regulation of noncoal minerals. For further information as if becomes available, visit IMCC’s website at www.imcc.isa.us and click the “Conference info.” tab, or contact Beth Botsis at email@example.com.
Obama FY 2010 Budget Includes Revenue from Cap-and-Trade Program
President Obama recently unveiled a fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget blueprint which calls for a cap-and-trade climate change program that is expected to generate almost $650 billion in new federal revenue by 2019. Obama released the blueprint on February 26, with the complete FY 2010 budget request scheduled to be submitted to Congress in early April.
Under the blueprint, an economy-wide cap-and-trade program would take effect in 2012 and be overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The program would be implemented through a system wherein 100 percent of emissions allowances would be auctioned off.
Of the $646 billion generated by these auctions, beginning in 2012 and ending in 2019, $150 billion would be used to fund clean energy technology development at $15 billion annually. In a speech to a joint-session of Congress recently, President Obama committed his administration to spending $15 billion annually on a range of new energy technologies, including clean coal. Remaining funds generated by the program will be used to help families, communities and businesses “transition to a clean energy economy,” according to the blueprint. The budget blueprint assumes that $3.4 billion in clean coal funding provided in the recently enacted $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is enough to enable the Department of Energy to implement the president’s pledge to build five commercial scale coal-fueled power plants equipped with carbon capture and storage technology through public-private partnerships.
President Obama’s blueprint terminates federal abandoned mine land funding to coal-producing states that may no longer need funds to clean up abandoned coal mines, resulting in a $200 million budget cut per year.
The blueprint calls for a $19 million increase for EPA to support efforts to compile an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and related activity for the purpose of helping implement a climate change program. The budget outline also assumes a reinstatement in 2011 of the Superfund excise taxes that expired in 1995. The reinstatement is meant to generate $1 billion in funding to support remediation of contaminated sites.
The blueprint provides $130 million to federal management agencies, states and tribes to help update land management and species recovery plans to account for the impact climate change could have on wildlife and calls for accelerated projects to help wildlife adjust.
Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill Signed into Law
President Obama recently signed into law a $410 billion fiscal year (FY) 2009 omnibus spending bill. The bill is primarily intended to provide funding for federal agencies for the duration of FY 2009. Included in the bill are several mining related programs.
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee programs will receive $27.6 billion, an increase over the $26.3 billion enacted in FY 2008 and more than President Bush’s $25.6 billion final budget request. Included in the $27.6 billion for Interior Department programs is $1 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), representing a 3.7 percent increase of $37 million compared to the enacted FY 2008 enacted level. The bill also restores several large cuts in USGS programs proposed in the FY 2009 budget submitted by President Bush.