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OSMRE reveals 2018 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards winners

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Global Mining Review,

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) has announced the winners of its 2018 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards. This year’s winning projects represent the nation’s highest achievements in abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation, demonstrating innovative reclamation techniques and completing reclamation that resulted in outstanding on-the-ground performance.

"As the Trump Administration continues to help establish a new American conservation legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt, I am honoured to highlight the best examples of abandoned mine land reclamation," said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. "It takes the work of countless engaged citizens and public servants to ensure that future generations can enjoy and use all of our lands, including those that were mined and then left behind without reclamation. The states, local governments and citizen groups honoured here have made a significant contribution to their communities, and to their nation, and they deserve recognition."

Established in 1992, the AML Reclamation Awards recognise exemplary state and tribal reclamation projects that reclaim coal mine sites that were abandoned prior to the signing of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). Eligible projects are funded wholly or in part by OSMRE’s AML Reclamation Fund. OSMRE’s AML Reclamation Program addresses the hazards and environmental degradation posed by two centuries of US coal mining that occurred before SMCRA.

State and tribal reclamation officials and OSMRE managers voted on this year’s awards. Winners are being recognised in five categories:

National Award – recognises the overall highest rated reclamation project

Logan abandoned mine land reclamation project

Mines and Minerals Bureau, Division of Soil Conservation

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Prior to reclamation, the site’s barren, eroded spoil piles and pits were concealed by invasive shrubs, stunted trees, and a small plot of pines. The Logan reclamation project provided several opportunities to adopt and refine new approaches to overcome technical challenges. The site was seeded with plants that attract pollinators, in particular monarch butterflies. The effort is already showing results. The vegetation is attracting local wildlife, including a goose nest and a beaver dam.

Regional Awards – honours the best projects in each of OSMRE’s three regions

Appalachian Region Award

Joan Bernat Slide

Division of Abandoned Mine Lands

Kentucky Department of Natural Resources

The Joan Bernat Slide High Priority Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Project was completed at the historic coal camp town of Hardburly, near Hazard, Kentucky. In May 2016, local residents reported that a slide had occurred on a hillside above multiple residences and feared that further movement would threaten their homes. Hazard KDAML Emergency Branch personnel hastily worked to reroute the drainage above the slide, controlling drainage and silt from the slide, and improving drainage structures near the homes. The actions of the state and partners brought peace of mind to the residents of Hardburly.

Mid-Continent Award

Snow Hill Abandoned Mine Land Site 882

Division of Reclamation

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

The Snow Hill Abandoned Mine Land project addressed public safety concerns and environmental damage caused by two large, coarse, coal refuse piles, with a total area of 40 acres on each side of North Coal Creek in Vigo County, Indiana. Acid mine drainage and eroding coal refuse from the two refuse piles clogged the North Coal Creek channel and substantially degraded its water quality. The Division of Reclamation took actions to make the area safe for the community by installing drainage structures, establishing a wetland, and regrading the coal refuse embankments.

Western Region Award

Hydraulic pit reclamation project

Abandoned Mine Land Program, Division of Mining, Land and Water

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Coal mined in the first half of the 20th century by various companies created 3.5 miles of large open pits along the south side of Healy Creek. The highwall extended for 1600 ft in length and stood as high as 265 ft. The reclamation project eliminated the dangerous high wall, improved safety, conserved and improved water quality, enhanced wildlife habitat and augmented recreation opportunities.

Small project award – recognises a project that cost less than US$1 million and is in a state that receives less than US$6 million in AML funds

Mid-Lothian Mines Park

Division of Mined Land Reclamation

Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy

The historic Mid-Lothian Mines abandoned mine land features the remains of the first documented mining in Virginia’s Richmond coalfields. Unfortunately, the features were in serious disrepair and disintegration. Open shafts, subsidence areas and falling structures were huge safety hazards to the surrounding residential areas. After the landowner donated the land to Chester County, the state was able to close two vertical openings, stabilise and close two hazardous equipment and facilities structures, close one subsidence area, and stabilise two pits and three slumps. Today, the Mid-Lothian Historical Mines Park comprises the 42 acre reclamation site and is the most visited park in the county. OSMRE will present its Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards during the annual conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs in Williamsburg, VA, on 10 September 2018.

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