You want to open a coal mine and you want your operation to be protective of the environment. That means that you need to identify and segregate the topsoil resources and develop a long-term reclamation plan that is both cost-effective and approvable. EarthFax has not only been there and done that, but they've been there and done it several times. Our experience has included:
FIRST ORDER SOIL SURVEYS FOR EXISTING AND PROPOSED MINING OPERATIONS. First Order baseline soil surveys have been conducted for several existing and proposed coal mining operations in Utah. The surveys delineated soil mapping units to the phase level of a soil series. Soil descriptions were prepared for each unit and the present and potential productivity of the soils were determined. Maps were prepared which delineated all of the soil units. Suitable topsoil for reclamation was identified and soil isopach maps were prepared to indicate the areas for future topsoil removal. Plans for the removal, storage, protection, post-use surface preparation, and redistribution of topsoil were prepared. In addition, the pre-disturbance nutrient levels of the soil were determined and the need for, plus the types and application rates of, soil nutrients and amendments were determined. The established vegetation and chemical analyses of the soils were utilized to ensure that concentrations of potentially deleterious elements were not present.
CLOSURE OF MINERAL-MINE OPENINGS IN NEVADA. Nine mine openings in Humbolt County, Nevada were inventoried and closed in accordance with the requirements of the State of Nevada. Hazard rankings were applied in accordance with the Nevada Abandoned Mine regulations. The openings were closed by backfilling the adits and securing chain-link fencing over the subvertical slopes.
DELINEATION OF SUBSTITUTE TOPSOIL FOR RECLAMATION USE. First Order soil surveys have been conducted in Utah for several existing coal mines for the purpose of identifying sources of substitute topsoil for reclamation of the sites. Volumes and locations of the existing, disturbed soil resources at the mines were delineated, including a determination of their physical and chemical properties and the current level of contamination, if any. In addition, the surveys required delineating over 300,000 yd3 of substitute topsoil for use in reclamation. Potential borrow areas were delineated, investigated, sampled, described, and mapped. The requirements for nutrients and amendments were determined and the required types and amounts of additives were calculated.
DESIGN AND SUPERVISION OF COAL MINE RECLAMATION. EarthFax developed channel designs and supervised total reclamation of a former underground coal mine in central Utah. Construction services were contracted and supervised, monitoring data were collected during reclamation, and ongoing liaison between the mining company and the regulatory agencies was provided for the post-reclamation period. Post-mining monitoring data were collected and engineering inspections of the site were provided following reclamation in accordance with the permit requirements.
COAL MINE RECLAMATION DESIGN. Reclamation plans were developed, reclamation cut and fill requirements were determined, post-mining contours were developed, and post-mining runoff- and sediment-control structures were designed for several coal mining operations in Utah. Design work was performed using AutoCAD and associated engineering software. Revisions to post-mining contours were made as necessary to achieve approximate original contour and to maintain an appropriate cut and fill balance. Liaison was provided between the mining companies and the regulatory agencies.
RECLAMATION DESIGN FOR AN ABANDONED MINE/MILL/SMELTER COMPLEX. A reclamation plan was developed for an abandoned mine/mill/smelter complex in Utah. Soil and water samples were collected to delineate acceptable topsoil and structural fill borrow materials. Soil, waste, and water samples were collected to determine requirements for isolation of waste materials. Reclamation designs were developed, including diversions and channel stabilization facilities, and project costs were determined.
RECLAMATION PLAN DEVELOPMENT FOR AN ACTIVE URANIUM MILL. Reclamation plans were developed for an existing uranium mill in Utah. The project included the design of a suitable cover for the tailings, giving consideration to radon attenuation, erosion control, and reduction of moisture movement between the tailings and the cover. A major post-facility channel was designed to convey surface runoff across the site without damaging the reclaimed tailings piles.
EVALUATIONS OF HIGHWALL RETENTION. The feasibility of post-reclamation retention of highwalls associated with underground coal mining operations was evaluated at several mines in central Utah. The aesthetic impacts were evaluated by comparing the length and height of the proposed retained highwalls with natural cliffs in the immediate vicinity of the mines. Long-term geomorphic stability of the retained highwalls was evaluated by examining the structural integrity of the affected rock. Liaison was provided between the mining companies and the regulatory agencies, including providing expert witness support before regulatory control boards.
ALLUVIAL VALLEY FLOOR DETERMINATIONS. Studies were conducted at several locations in the western United States to determine if alluvial valley floors existed on or contiguous to proposed and existing coal mining operations. Inventories were made of the vegetative cover, historical irrigation activities, sub-irrigation, land use (both historic and current), soils, geologic and geomorphic features, and hydrologic regime. Both quantity and quality of the preceding parameters were defined, and maps and reports were prepared which detailed the final determination.