Over 71,000 acres of land in Virginia have been affected by coal mining. It is estimated that it would take approximately 55 years at the present rate of funding and reclamation construction to reclaim the remaining Priority 1 and Priority 2 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites. In addition, it would cost more than $313 million to reclaim the identified Priority 3 sites. One way to accelerate reclamation of AML is through remining.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy's (DMME) Division of Mined Land Reclamation (DMLR), The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Tech/Powell River Project, and U. S. Office of Surface Mining combined resources to develop proposals for incentives that will promote economically viable, environmentally beneficial remining operations that reclaim AML sites. Initial meetings led to the development of a Remining Ad Hoc Work Group that includes representatives from industry, other governmental agencies, special interest groups, and citizens of Southwest Virginia. Our Ad Hoc Group has identified existing incentives and continues to propose new ones.
Existing Remining Incentives:
Virginia's Pollution Abatement Regulations These regulations were the result of a 1987 amendment to the Federal Clean Water Act. Alternate effluent discharge limits are allowed in areas with preexisting effluent problems. Operators document effluent conditions prior to remining. Upon completion of the remining operation, the operator would need to demonstrate that the effluent from this site is "as-good-as" the premining effluent.
Guidelines for Forestry Husbandry Practices New forestry husbandry based upon independent research have been approved. These practices are specifically geared for the forestry post mining land use and should help create highly-productive forest in a timely manner so that the mine operator, landowners, and communities can benefit.
Remining Permit Enhancement DMLR has implemented procedures to facilitate remining permit preparation and review.
DMLR Remining Review Team This is a team that works with the company up-front during preparation of a permit application. The team consists of an engineer, geologist, pollution control specialist, agronomist, client assistance officer, area inspector, and coordinator. Input and guidance are provided on an as needed basis.
Mapping and Surveying Support DMLR will provide remining permit applicants with state-of-the-art assistance through digital mapping services and the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) capabilities to locate abandoned mine land features, acid mine drainage seeps, boreholes, and other features.
Proposed Remining Incentives:
AML No-Cost Agreement This is a mechanism that can be used to achieve reclamation of abandoned mine lands located outside normal permit boundaries. This agreement would be between the Department and an eligible person for the purpose of reclaiming un-reclaimed abandoned mine lands and which does not involve the expenditure of Commonwealth funds. The reclamation only areas would not have to be permitted. A minimum performance bond would be required. The person would not have to consider these areas in the draining calculations for their mining permit.
AML Enhancement Rule This would entail the use of AML funds to contract with an operator to reclaim, through remining, an area of remnant coal that ordinarily could not be mined. There is a possibility that these projects would not require a coal surface mining permit. This rule would remove the required 50% government funding before any coal could be removed from the project and sold. The removal and sale of any coal from the site could then be used to help finance the project.
Experimental Practice Program To allow spoil from an active Title V permit to be placed on an adjacent AML area (abandoned unstable highwalls, eroding outslopes, acid/toxic material, barren benches, depressions, etc.)
For additional information contact (276) 523-8171 or e-mail.
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