CHARLESTON, W.Va. ─ State regulators recognized a host of West Virginia mining operations for their reclamation and environmental stewardship during the 2017 West Virginia Mining Symposium.

The reclamation awards were announced Feb. 23 at the Charleston Civic Center, where the West Virginia Coal Association held its 44th annual symposium. Inspectors with the state Department of Environmental Protection selected the winners, and DEP Secretary Austin Caperton handed out the awards. 

“West Virginia’s coal operators have an incredibly strong but often un-acknowledged commitment to environmental protection and responsible reclamation,” 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.”

The top award – the Greenlands Award, went to Aracoma Coal Company for its Camp Branch Surface Mine in Logan County. Reclamation included the design and operation of a 700-acre surface mine. Aracoma worked with the land owner and county redevelopment authority to submit a permit modification for a variance from approximate original contour that would permit the construction of an adverse weather aerial delivery system, drop zone and landing zone for the West Virginia National Guard, allowing for pilot training and certification on the use of unimproved air strips in combat zones. 

The U.S. Surface Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation presented the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Award to Coal-Mac’s Phoenix No. 1 Surface Mine in Logan and Mingo counties. 

Other reclamation award winners are:

AML North Award: Solid Rock Excavating Company, Parker Run Project (Marion County) 

Reclamation included highwall elimination, grading and capping the refuse areas and the installation of mine seals, bat gates and drainage control structures.    

AML South Award: Pineville Paving Company, Little Daycamp Branch Refuse (McDowell County)

Reclamation included environmental remediation of a coal refuse site that included the grading, construction of drainage diversion channels and a water discharge control surge basin.

AML Emergency Award: Carpenter Reclamation Inc., Dans Branch (Dillon) Landslide Project.  (Mingo County) 

Reclamation consisted of removing loose material to bedrock, stabilizing the adjacent undisturbed area and the installation of mine seals and drainage control structures. 

AML Emergency Award – Coal Refuse: A&A Energy, Bald Knob / Hager Project (Boone County)

Reclamation included the excavation and extinguishment of burning refuse, capping the site with soil and installing drainage control structures.  Final reclamation included a planting plan for fish and wildlife habitat.    

National Wild Turkey Federation Award: Coal-Mac Inc., Loggy Branch Surface Mine (Logan, Mingo counties)

Reclamation included post-mining land use and planting plans that has provided a wildlife habitat that is otherwise limited in the surrounding, undisturbed forest and one that promotes local turkey populations and hunting opportunities. Coal-Mac has also hosted multiple youth hunting events in conjunction with the National Wild Turkey Federation.   

Coal Refuse Facility South Award: Mingo-Logan Coal Company, Mountain Laurel Complex (Logan County)

The company designed a coal slurry handling system that includes multiple points of leak detection, remote flow monitoring, video surveillance and secondary containment and diversion structures for the entire length of the slurry line.

Remining Award – South:  Central Appalachia Mining LLC, Remining #1 Surface Mine (Mingo County)

Reclamation included eliminating four miles of existing highwall and removing and encapsulating AMD-producing material that significantly impacted the water quality in adjacent stream courses, while producing coal from the active surface mining area.  Post-remining water quality has improved substantially. 

Surface Mine South Award: Coal Mac Inc., Phoenix No. 5 Surface Mine (Logan County)

Reclamation of a surface coal mining operation included a 63 percent reduction in initial designed configuration stream impacts through the elimination of four planned valley fills through an AOC plus reclamation plan. The regraded areas have been replanted and are approaching final reclamation status. 

Coal Refuse Facility North Award: Wolf Run Mining Company, Sentinel Mine (Barbour County)

Reclamation included expansion of an underground mining complex and preparation plant facility originally constructed in 1973.  The expansion consisted of expanding the coal refuse areas and the associated drainage and water discharge control structures and the installation of a sophisticated remote monitoring system that incorporates piezometers, float and pH monitoring and real-time notification devices. 

Valley Fill Construction / Surface Mine South Award: Coal-Mac Inc., Pine Creek No. 2 Surface Mine (Logan County)

Reclamation included the effective implementation and management of a selenium overburden handling and water treatment system and an innovative valley fill under-drain design that utilizes filter cloth to minimize TDS in the discharges from the fill area.

Surface Mine South Award: Met Resources LLC, Weyanoke Surface Mine (Mercer County)

Reclamation included recovering the Pocahontas 6, 7 and 9 coal seams from a reserve base previously deemed unrecoverable. Following coal recovery, the topography was restored through regarding and the post-mining land use of forestland implemented with a planting plan of native hardwoods such as oaks and maples.