May 2004, VOL. 22, NO. 2
IMCC 2004 Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission's (IMCC) 2004 Annual Meeting was held at The Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia on April 25-28, 2004.
The meeting commenced with a welcoming reception the night of Sunday, April 25. On Monday morning, April 26, Vice Mayor Louis R. Jones of Virginia Beach provided a welcoming address, and was followed by two excellent speakers: John H. DeYoung, Jr., Chief Scientist, Mineral Information Team, of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) spoke on "USGS Minerals Information Responsibilities and Activities – the First 125 Years"; and Richard Davis of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy finished the speaker session on the topic "Value Added Reclamation Through Partnering".
At the conclusion of the speaker session, IMCC's Environmental Affairs, Noncoal Section and Mine Safety and Health Committees met jointly. Meeting attendees enjoyed dinner and beautiful views of the bay at Rockafeller's of Virginia Beach on Monday evening. The Coal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Abandoned Mine Lands Committee met jointly all day on Tuesday, April 27. Tuesday evening the Annual Awards Banquet was held. Several winners and honorable mention recipients of IMCC's 2004 National Mine Land Reclamation Awards and Mineral Education Awards were present for the banquet.
The IMCC Resolutions and Finance and Administrative Committees met the morning of Wednesday, April 28, followed by the Annual Executive Commission Business Meeting. The meeting concluded around Noon on Wednesday.
IMCC Sponsors Bonding Forum
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) sponsored a Bonding Forum at The Founders Inn in Virginia Beach following the conclusion of the Annual Meeting. Several representatives from the mining industry, the bonding and insurance industries, IMCC and non-IMCC member states, and various federal agencies including the Office of Surface Mining attended the forum. The purpose of the forum was to review the current status of bonding and financial assurance for the mining industry (both coal and noncoal) and to engage in discussions about acceptable solutions for addressing current difficulties in accessing surety bonds, both in terms of the regulatory environment and the available alternatives to surety. Attendees discussed current difficulties the mining industry is experiencing in obtaining reclamation bonds, trends in the bonding industry, regulatory impacts, states' experiences with bonding issues, and sharing of ideas to address the problems.
IMCC Selects Recipients of 2004 National Reclamation Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) presented its 2004 National Reclamation Awards at the Annual Awards Banquet held Tuesday, April 27 at The Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 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, the Floyd G. Durham Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Reclamation by a Small Operator was also given to a coal company that was found to be deserving of special recognition.
The winner of the Kenes C. Bowling reclamation award in the coal category is Arch of West Virginia (Apogee Coal Company) for its Ruffner Mine, located in Logan County near Yolyn, West Virginia. The winner in the noncoal category is Chaney Enterprises Limited Partnership for its Mardis Site in Anne Arundel County near Davidsonville, Maryland. The small operator award was presented to Penn-Ohio Coal Company for its Yorktown Pit located in Tuscarawas County near Dover, Ohio.
The Ruffner Mine began operations in 1985 and operates under four permits issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, which nominated Arch of West Virginia for this award. The permitted area reclaimed by Arch exemplifies excellence in contemporaneous reclamation techniques and the elimination of pre-existing problems at the site, while creating several unique surface structures. Much of the permit area was extensively deep mined prior to 1977 and a portion of the permit area was contour and auger mined. The Ruffner surface mining and reclamation operation eliminated a total of 17,400 feet (or approximately 3.3 miles) of highwall as part of the mountain mining/valley fill operation. The valley fills on the permit area reclaimed 26,580 feet (or about 5.1 miles) of highwalls inside the perimeter of the fills. Each of the fills was constructed based on recently adopted requirements for valley fill minimization.
One unique feature of the reclaimed landscape at the Ruffner Mine is the large sediment cells that were constructed to catch runoff from the surface mine. The original topography of the area consisted of slopes exceeding twenty degrees, which presented a unique challenge for the mining operation. The sediment control structures were installed along the contour as the mining advanced, with removal of existing forestland being done incrementally to minimize erosion. While the mine's postmining land use is hay and pasture land, a stable wildlife environment has also been provided through the establishment of various enhancements including wood duck boxes and the planting of a wide variety of trees and wildflowers. Through the combination of large perimeter sediment cells, unique valley fill designs, use of the valley fill footprint minimization requirements, and the correction of pre-existing abandoned mine land problems at no cost to the state, the Ruffner Mine stands as a classic example of environmental stewardship.
The winner of the Kenes C. Bowling reclamation award in the noncoal category is Chaney Enterprises Limited Partnership, Mardis Site which is located on the banks of the Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County in the southern part of Maryland. Mining at the Mardis Site began in the 1950's and continued until 1999 at which time reclamation of the site was initiated. During the course of the 50 year mining history, 347 acres were mined for sand and gravel and the mined product was processed at two onsite wash plants before being shipped to market. Because of the proximity to the Patuxent River, the operator had to be especially sensitive to protecting associated natural resources. A berm was constructed along the edge of the permit area adjacent to the river and over the years developed natural growth patterns, which were preserved rather than disturb a sensitive area. Several sediment traps and ponds were restored to encourage development of non-tidal wetlands and several of these were incorporated into the postmining land use.
The site was reclaimed as a world-class replica golf course, known as "Renditions Golf's Grand Slam Experience", designed by golf course architect Dave Edsall. Turning the previously mined site into a high-end golf course presented several challenges for Chaney Enterprises during the reclamation process, including dismantling the large wash ponds, a portion of which were turned into a storm water management facility. This was accomplished by combining the 25-feet deep soupy fine clays in the ponds with crushed cinder blocks from the dismantled maintenance building in order to stabilize the area. All other wash ponds, which had dried out over years of non-use, were capped with clean fill materials and the area was graded for use as a driving range. The removal of 50 years worth of abandoned and sometimes buried equipment presented additional challenges during the re-grading process. All remaining stockpiles of sand were utilized in grading the site to achieve the elevations for each golf hole. The only materials brought onto the site for reclamation purposes was the topsoil required by the United States Golf Association for tees and greens. All other materials were supplied from the site.
In addition to the innovative use of on-site materials that might have been considered waste and the incorporation of existing sediment control features as part of the golf course design, Chaney also moved several trees on the property rather than simply cutting them down. The golf course now provides an open space area and vegetated buffers for the Patuxent River, while providing and protecting a significant wooded wetland area.
The winner of the Floyd G. Durham Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Reclamation by a Small Operator is Penn-Ohio Coal Company which operates the Yorktown Pit in Tuscarawas County near Dover, Ohio. The pit consists of approximately 650 permitted acres and contains virtually every category of special mining technique, except for prime farmland. Among the techniques utilized are ridgetop removal; valley fill construction; historic landmark avoidance; stream channel avoidance; coal by-product beneficial use; coal waste disposal; wetland avoidance; deep mine avoidance; steep slope mining; and augering. Coal combustion by-products were used as a neutralizing agent and binder when mixed with waste from the washplant and then incorporated into the backfill. When unexpected collapsed deep mines were encountered, the mining company backfilled the area until the floor of the pit was raised above the subsidence area, thereby preventing possible saturation of the enhanced waste material that was being placed in the fill. Two older homesteads designated as historic properties were protected, using backfill to prevent subsidence. Wetland areas were protected through the use of drainage controls that required numerous small ponds, diversions and silt fences to be installed as opposed to affecting the wetlands and rebuilding them later. Through its perseverance in developing and pursuing a detailed mining and reclamation plan, this small operator has achieved enduring results in terms of better compliance, better landowner relations and better reclamation.
Also receiving recognition for honorable mention were the following companies in the coal category: Vigo Coal Company, Inc., Cypress Creek Mine (Indiana); Paramont Coal Company, George's Fort #1 Mine (Virginia); TXU Mining Company, LP, Martin Lake Mine (Texas); Consolidation Coal Company, Consol Illinois Surface Mines (Illinois); San Juan Coal Company, San Juan Mine (New Mexico); Wash Ridge Coal Company, Pleasant View Mine (Kentucky); and Coteau Properties Company, Freedom Mine (North Dakota).
Honorable mentions in the noncoal category were presented to the following: American Aggregates Corporation (dba Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.), Fairborn Sand and Gravel Mine (Ohio); Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., South Hampton Mine (Arkansas); Vulcan Materials Company, Bedford Quarry (Virginia); Hanson Brick, Sipple Mine (Kentucky); and Waco Oil and Gas Company, Inc., Duck Run Quarry #1 (West Virginia).
IMCC Selects Recipients of 2004 National Mineral Education Awards
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) presented its sixth annual mineral education awards at a banquet held in conjunction with IMCC's Annual Meeting at The Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia on April 27, 2004. 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, one honorable mention was awarded in the educator category, and three honorable mentions were presented in the public outreach category.
The educator award is presented to an individual school teacher or school from an IMCC member state 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 community about mining and its impacts; promoted environmental stewardship while enhancing the understanding of issues associated with mining and natural resource development; created unique educational materials or curriculum demonstrating the production and/or use of minerals and associated environmental protection. These criteria may be met through classroom and/or out-of classroom (i.e. field trips, mine tours, etc.) activities. The winner was presented with an engraved plaque and a $250 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 of 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 was presented with an engraved plaque of recognition.
The winner in the educator awareness category for 2004 was the Metropolitan School District of Shakamak, Jr.-Sr. High School. The majority of communities in the Shakamak area came into existence because of coal mines, with the towns often taking their names from mining terms (i.e. the town of Coalmont). With coal mining heritage being so strong in the area, the teachers and students started a project called "Developing Youth Needs And Motivating Individuals Technologically & Educationally" (D.Y.N.A.M.I.T.E.). This project became a focus of the entire community. The school is located in the small town of Jasonville. It is a summer haven for tourists because a State Park is within two miles of the city limits. Visitors come from all over the United States and overseas. Jasonville created a museum for visitors to see what this geographical area was and is like. A portion of the museum focuses on the area's heritage from coal mining. The students worked very hard to get information and display items for the museum. They also worked on items to display at Indiana's Shakamak State Park, which has its own mining history. One of the large lakes at the State Park was formed because a railroad spur grade built by a coal company near the turn of the century could be used as a dam. In the State Park there are also some surface mining effects and the entrance to an underground mine. The students documented this history in the State Park. Students from every discipline participated in this project. The chemistry class evaluated water samples and the effects of coal mining on water. The art classes traveled to several mines and sites to take pictures. They created art projects and provided pictures to the home economics classes. The home economics classes used a computerized sewing/embroidery machine to transfer the pictures to cloth and make wall hangings for display. The social studies classes hosted several speakers and wrote research papers on mines and mining in the area. The language arts classes interviewed miners of all ages, writing short essays on the information they were able to provide, and presented speeches. The health classes researched and wrote reports about the effects of black lung and other illnesses common to miners. The foreign language classes translated reports into the French and German languages. The reports were made available to visitors at the state park and the museum. Business classes studied the economics of coal mining on the area, learning that mining works on a very short profit margin. They compared workers wages, production, and operational cost analysis and benefits to the communities. The business education classes created videos and CD's to help document projects on coal mining. The technology education classes created a moving model of a dragline. The learning disabilities classes took tours and created displays and models. Some teachers and students participated in "chocolate chip cookie mining" to explore some of the difficulties miners face. The music classes visited a coal museum in the town of Dugger. A musical rendition of "Sixteen Tons" (Ernie Ford's hit song) was performed on video by the high school show choir after they learned about the story the song was telling. The school went above and beyond their teaching requirements to provide students with a number of innovative ways to experience learning. All of the mediums created are now available for the public to view and learn about the rich history and present contributions of coal mining. The school has preserved and increased the knowledge of Indiana coal mining.
The Coteau Properties Company Freedom Mine, Beulah, North Dakota was chosen as the 2004 winner in the public outreach category for their "Lignite and Lewis & Clark" project. In 1804, Lewis and Clark explored the upper Missouri River in pursuit of Thomas Jefferson's dreams for the young republic. This year marks the bicentennial celebration of this great adventure and thousands of tourists are tracing the original route of the Corps of Discovery, on a route only a few miles from the Missouri River on North Dakota Highway 1806. This road runs through the heart of North Dakota's vast coal fields, and bisects America's largest lignite coal mine, The Coteau Properties Company Freedom Mine. After mining south of the highway for almost 20 years, in 2002 Coteau built an underpass to commence mining north of the road. For the next five years, Coteau will be mining just a few hundred feet north of Highway 1806. Coteau built a roadside turnout to let motorists pull off the highway and watch mining operations. The entire mining and reclamation process will be visible as it moves from east to west, from initial soil stripping through overburden removal and pit development, to coal removal, spoil grading, soil replacement, and final reclamation. Coteau designed and installed interpretive displays at the turnout. These describe the history of lignite coal, starting with Thomas Jefferson's instructions to Meriwether Lewis to note "the mineral productions of every kind; but more particularly metals, limestone, pit coal...". Tracing the use of lignite coal by prairie pioneers through early underground mining and the growth of surface mining, these permanent displays also describe the huge earthwork equipment visitors can see as they relax at the site. The turnout and interpretive displays provide educational outreach in an innovative manner that increases the public's level of understanding about coal mining, and its importance in the history of North Dakota and America. The site takes advantage of a unique link between past, present, and future. It capitalizes on strong local, regional, national, and even international interest in Lewis and Clark, and the history of the areas they visited. Another unique feature of the site is the dynamic nature of the landscape. Visitors returning year after year can watch the progression of mining and reclamation. One display asks visitors to look around and see if they can tell the difference between unmined and reclaimed land. People taking pictures today can return to the same spot in several years to compare the view.
A certificate of honorable mention was awarded to Mr. Chase D. Hughes, a teacher at Stuart's Draft High School in Stuart's Draft, Virginia.
Honorable mentions in the public outreach category went to: Alcoa Inc. Sandow & Three Oaks Mines, Rockdale, Texas; Jim Walter Resources, Inc., Brookwood, Alabama; and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, New Mexico.
IMCC/NAAMLP Present Testimony on Reauthorization of AML Program
On March 30, 2004, Steve Hohmann, Director of the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands in the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources, presented testimony on behalf of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) and the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) concerning legislation to reauthorize the abandoned mine lands (AML) program. The testimony was presented before the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee.
Mr. Hohmann stated, "We strongly feel that the future of the AML program should continue to focus on the underlying principles and priorities upon which SMCRA [the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977] was founded -- protection of the public health and safety, environmental restoration, and economic development in the coalfields of America. Over the past 25 years, tens of thousands of acres of mined land have been reclaimed, thousands of mine openings have been closed, and safeguards for people, property and the environment have been put in place....I could provide numerous success stories from around the country where the states' and tribes' AML programs have saved lives and significantly improved the environment. Suffice it to say that the AML Trust Fund, and the work of the states and tribes pursuant to the distribution of moneys from the Fund, have played an important role in achieving the goals and objectives set forth by Congress when SMCRA was enacted -- including protecting public health and safety, enhancing the environment, providing employment, and adding to the economies of communities impacted by past coal mining."
In his testimony, Mr. Hohmann also addressed the subject of insufficient appropriations from the Fund over the years for state and tribal AML programs, and the escalating cost of addressing AML problems. He pointed out that unaddressed sites tend to worsen over time, thus increasing reclamation costs. Inflation exacerbates these costs. Also, new
high priority problems appear all the time -- some being discovered as urban development moves into areas that had once been mining areas, some problems manifesting themselves due to time and weather, such as mine subsidence events and landslides which can threaten homes, highways and the health and safety of coalfield residents.
Mr. Hohmann presented the following as overriding concerns of the states and tribes regarding the AML Fund:
-- Adequate , equitable, and stable funding must be provided to the states and tribes on an annual basis that will allow the states and tribes to address the AML problems their citizens are experiencing and to implement their respective AML programs to provide the services intended by SMCRA.
-- The unexpended state share balance in the AML Trust Fund should be distributed to all the states and tribes as expeditiously as possible so states and tribes can address existing AML problems before inflationary impacts result in more costly reclamation and thus less reclamation.
-- States and tribes under Title IV of SMCRA should remain the primary delivery mechanism for AML moneys based on their demonstrated history of effective and efficient program implementation.
-- Funding for the "minimum program" states must be restored to the statutorily authorized amount of not less than $2 million annually.
-- Any adjustment to the AML program should not inhibit or impair remining opportunities or incentives.
-- Any adjustments to the existing system of priorities under Title IV must consider the impacts to existing state set-aside programs and to current state efforts to remediate acid mine drainage.
-- Any adjustments to the current certification process should not inhibit the ability of the states and tribes to address high priority noncoal projects.
-- Any review or adjustments to the current AML inventory should account for past discrepancies and provide for the inclusion of legitimate new sites.
-- Any adjustments to Title IV of SMCRA must be presented and considered in a judicious and productive environment that allows for all affected parties' concerns to be heard and addressed, including coalfield residents who are directly affected by AML dangers and who have been adversely impacted by the unappropriated balance that delays further restoration of their communities. In this regard, it should be kept in mind that any legislative adjustments which have the result of significantly undermining state AML funding or the efficacy of state AML programs could lead state legislatures to seriously reconsider SMCRA primacy entirely – both Title IV and Title V. This very scenario was contemplated by the framers of SMCRA who structured the Act so that the Title IV AML program would serve as an incentive for states to adopt and implement Title V regulatory programs. Should the AML "carrot" be chopped up, the desire to maintain Title V primacy could be seriously re-thought by some state legislatures, particularly during difficult budget times, thus placing OSM in the undesirable position of having to run these programs at significantly increased cost to the federal government. Hence the importance of assuring that the current state share provisions in SMCRA are held harmless in any proposed restructuring of the current allocation formula.