2016 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Award Winners
The Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Awards are presented to coal mining companies that achieve the most exemplary mining and reclamation in the country.
For the last 30 years, OSMRE has recognized mining companies that have gone the extra mile to reclaim the land, and the communities nearby, after mining is complete. In that time, the bureau has given awards to companies for, among other things, reforestation, for creating habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon emissions, replanting rare forms of native groundcover, employing geomorphic reclamation, and providing millions of dollars for educational and community needs.
The Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Awards are presented to coal mining companies for achieving exemplary mining and reclamation practices. A coal mining operation may be nominated for achievement in a specific aspect of reclamation, or for overall performance in meeting goals of the Surface Mining Law.
In 2016, OSMRE awarded four companies with the coveted Excellence In Surface Coal Mining Award in 2016, one each from the respective regions and the National Award.
OSMRE Western Region Director David Berry will recognize each company’s achievements at the MINExpo INTERNATIONAL® 2016 where the National Mining Association will sponsor the Awards Luncheon on September 28, 2016, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
2016 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards Presentation Video
The winners of the 2016 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Awards
Western Regional Award Winner: BHP Billiton/Navajo Transitional Energy Corporation, Fruitland, NM
BHP Billiton and the Navajo Transitional Energy Corporation moved hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of dirt to create the meandering streambed.
BHP Billiton and the Navajo Transitional Energy Corporation determined that the original reclamation of a site first completed in 1976 was not performing up to the company’s standards. The operator decided that the original engineering-based reclamation should be removed in favor of the newer technique of geomorphic reclamation.
After removing the originally built “drop structures,” the company rebuilt the site by moving more than 300,000 cubic yards of material, creating a central water source for wildlife and grazing. A move that in the long run saved the operators time and money that would otherwise go to fixing ongoing erosion from storm events.
The creation of a central water source attracted ducks, geese, and other wildlife to an area that would normally not see animals without such a source.
Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Solar Sources, Cannelburg Mining Complex, Cannelburg, IN
Wheat planted on the reclaimed site consistently yields higher bushels per acre, which is mostly due to the decompacted soil and replenished nutrients.
Solar Sources has committed to performing reclamation while coal mining operations are going on in disturbed areas. To accomplish this, the company typically segregates topsoil that is ideal for farming, then replaces the topsoil and includes needed nutrients to bring the area back to a prime farmland designation when mining is completed.
The company has demonstrated how decompacted soil, properly handled and treated, increased crop yields for different species. So far, the company has reclaimed more than 2500 acres, in addition to cleaning up 75 acres of abandoned mine land.
Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Westmoreland Coal Company/Oxford Mining, Cadiz, OH
Westmoreland Coal and the Oxford Mining Company have won three Excellence in Coal Mine Reclamation Award in five years in the same area, but for different projects. IN this case, the company reclaimed more than eight miles of dangerous highwalls from previously abandoned mines near roads, homes and business; creating more than seventeen thousand feet of continuous streambeds; filling dozens of old slurry impoundments; and turning some of the reclaimed areas into 23 acres of valuable wetlands, and still more grazing lands.
National Award Winner: Northampton Fuels Supply Company, Nanticoke, PA
Northampton Fuels won its first national award while taking advantage of a change in the law that allows remining of a previously mined site without having to go through the extensive permitting process associated with new mines. In this case, the company accepted the liability of reclaiming a 70-year old abandoned mine site that contained a pile of waste coal almost 700 feet high. It removed low-BTU coal that was polluting the air and a nearby watershed and refined it to the point where it was feasible to burn for electric power generation, then regraded the mine site to make it suitable for commercial and industrial development.
The removal of more than a million tons of waste saved the state millions in AML funding while also providing the potential for future jobs in the small town.
Aerial Loomis 1959 - Just 20 years later, the mine has expanded across several fields, leading to the very large waste pile the company removed over a fifteen year stretch.