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CHARLESTON - The 46th annual West Virginia Mining Symposium took place Jan. 29-30 at the Charleston Coliseum and Conference Center.

"West Virginia's coal industry continues to show its resilience and commitment to excellence across the board," said West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. "It's always a proud day for us when we can recognize those who excel in safety and reclamation, showing that the best and brightest in the industry are right here in West Virginia."

Several awards were presented.

Safety awards

Inspectors with the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training evaluate all coal operations and contractors to select the winners. Deputy Director Eugene White presented the awards.

Eustace E. Frederick Milestone Safety Award for underground coal mines: ACI Tygart Valley, Leer Mine; and Tunnel Ridge, Tunnel Ridge Complex.

Bart B. Lay Jr. Milestone Safety Award for surface coal mines: COAL MAC, Holden No. 22 Complex.

Vendor/contractor awards went to Philips Machine, Wayne/Walker Machinery, Rudd Equipment, J.H. Fletcher & Co., Rish Equipment, Narco Equipment Rebuild, Komatsu Mining and Nelson Brothers LLC.

The following awards are for Region Three, which encompasses Boone, Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne counties.

Underground Awards went to Aracoma Alma No.1, Aracoma Coal Company LLC; Ruby Energy, Spartan Mining Co; Powellton Mine, Greenbrier Minerals LLC; Cedar Grove No. 2 Mine, Aracoma Coal Company LLC.

Surface Awards went to Glancy Surface Mine, Rockwell Mining LLC; Reyla Surface Mine, Highland Mining Company; Twin Branch Surface MineNo. 1, South Eastern Land LLC; Toney Fork, Greenbrier Minerals LLC; Boone North No. 2, Raven Crest Contracting LLC; Re-Mining No. 3, Rhino Energy LLC.

Independent Contractor awards went to Ace Trucking, Inc., COAL-MAC LLC.

Preparation Plant awards went to Elk Lick Load Out, Greenbrier Minerals LLC; Holden No. 22 Prep Plant, Coal Mac LLC; Saunders Prep Plant, Greenbrier Minerals LLC; Bull Creek Prep Plant & Refuse, Raven Crest Contracting LLC.

Reclamation awards

Inspectors with the state Department of Environmental Protection selected reclamation award winners, and DEP Secretary Austin Caperton handed out the awards.

The top award - the Greenlands Award - went to Vindex Energy LCC for its A-34 Refuse Area, a 100-acre bond forfeiture site in Tucker County that included a large, open-pit, exposed highwall and a substantial water treatment obligation. At the time of its forfeiture, the site represented the single largest liability to the state's Special Reclamation Fund. In agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Vindex used the A-34 permit for the placement of mine refuse from an adjacent, active mining complex, eliminating the need to permit a new facility and allowing for the reclamation of the forfeited area.

Other reclamation award winners are:

Special Reclamation Award: Mountaineer Infrastructure, Cheyenne Coal Sales Site U-11-83 & U2009-96 -Included the demolition of coal handling equipment and preparation plant, the reclamation of a coal refuse area and the elimination of multiple sources of acid mine drainage. After land reclamation was completed and new drainage control structures were installed, water quality from the site improved dramatically, with several outlets now in compliance with effluent limitations.

AML North Reclamation Award: Stanley Industries, Morgan Highwall No. 46 - 5,300 feet of highwall and the elimination of unstable spoil material on a pre-law mine site close to several homes. The project also required the installation of bat boxes to protect endangered species habitat and the installation of appropriate drainage control.

AML South Reclamation Award: Collins Building & Contracting, Sugarcamp Run Burning Refuse Site - A pre-law coal burning coal refuse site that included the excavation, removal and stabilization of 31,932 cubic yards of material and the installation of 11,310 feet of sediment and drainage control and the revegetation of 23 acres of land to a post-reclamation land use of Wildlife Habitat.

AML Emergency Award: J.F. Allen Company, Sauls Run / Bennett Landslide -200 feet long and 75 feet wide sudden landslide that developed along a pre-law mining area where excavated spoil was placed in uncontrolled manner. The landslide was threatening three residences and had already damaged the foundations and driveways of several homes. The reclamation involved the excavation of 45,000 cubic yards of material and the stabilization of the area and installation of sediment and drainage control.

Drainage Control Construction & Operation Awards:

n Coal Mac, Pine Creek No. 1 Surface Mine - Construction and operation of drainage control structures on a large surface mine, including an excellent regulatory compliance history through effective runoff management and the use of innovative preventive measures.

n Mid-Vol, Cactus Ridge Surface Mine - Reclamation of large sediment control structure and the reconstruction of a stream channel that on the newly reclaimed area that promoted rapid colonization of macroinvertebrates and fish.

Valley Fill Construction Award: Southeastern Land, Twin Branch East - Construction of valley fills associated with a surface mine. By being innovative within the available resources, environmental impacts were kept to a minimum. This included over-stacking two existing fills to avoid impacts to jurisdictional waters and constructing an incised pond to reduce the impacts to jurisdictional waters.

Mine Construction Award- Loadout Facility: Republic Energy, Workman Creek Coal Handling Facility -Construction of a 55-acre coal handling facility through effective sediment control and concurrent reclamation of disturbed areas, including the elimination of 2,800 of pre-law highwall adjacent to the site.

Surface Mine Reclamation Award: Mid-Vol Coal Sales Inc., Dan's Branch Surface Mine - Over two miles of pre-law highwall as part of its active mining operation and the successful implementation of a highly effective contemporaneous reclamation plan that minimized disturbed acreage on the active mining site.

Surface Mine Reclamation Award- Coal Refuse Facility: Pocahontas Coal Company -Working with multiple state and federal agencies, the company completed the multiphase conversion process from a coarse coal refuse facility to a slurry impoundment with particular attention paid to environmental protection and compliance.

Mine Construction Award: Mingo-Logan Coal LLC, Spruce No.1 Surface Mine - Construction of a primary access, 9,000 feet long haul road for a large surface mining operation. The road was constructed in difficult topography with special attention to runoff control and avoiding impacts to jurisdictional waters.

Surface Mine Reclamation Award: JMAC Leasing, Briar Mountain Surface Mine - Operation and reclamation of a surface mine after encountering a substantial mine fire in the coal reserves associated with the active mining area, drastically reducing the recoverable coal associated with original permit. The company continued the operation, isolating the mine fire and completed reclamation of the active areas.

Surface Mine Reclamation Awards:

n Highland Mining Company, Reylas Surface Mine - Operation and reclamation of a large surface mine, including the reclamation of pre-law mining disturbance and the construction of a training area for the West Virginia Army National Guard.

n Greenbrier Smokeless Coal Mining LLC, Pollock Knob Surface Mine -575-acre surface mine in Greenbrier County that included the elimination of over three miles of pre-law highwall, with a special emphasis on returning both the active and pre-law disturbance to approximate original contour and a post-mining land use of forestry.

Underground Mine Reclamation Award: Lexington Coal Company, Laurel Creek No. 8 Mine - Included the installation of drainage control to address an unforeseen groundwater seep that, without innovative design and installation of control structures, could have compromised the long-term stability and reclamation of the mine.

Good Neighbor Award: Blue Creek Mining Company, Western Refuse Areas - Operation of a surface mining permit that was later converted for the placement of coarse coal refuse, eliminating the need for new disturbance. Blue Creek Mining, in conjunction with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the federal Office of Surface Mining, hosted an Arbor Day event for local students to learn about forestry practices by planting trees on the reclaimed areas of the permit.