The award, presented during the VMA’s 42nd annual meeting and awards banquet in Norton, Va., in late March, recognizes CONSOL Energy for its reclamation efforts at the Vandyke mine site, a 51.34-acre site, near Bandy, Va. The site is comprised of approximately 31 acres of undisturbed area and 20 acres of reclaimed land and is located in the sensitive Indian Creek watershed. The creek is home to one of the few remaining populations of the riffleshell mussel, an endangered species. Both mining and reclamation operations followed the approved permit to prevent adverse impacts to water quality in the stream.
To be eligible for the award, a site must be recommended by an inspector with the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy. Tom Mackey was the nominating Department of Mine Land Reclamation inspector.
Katharine Fredriksen, CONSOL Energy senior vice president of environmental strategy and regulatory affairs, noted the reclamation award is indicative of CONSOL Energy’s commitment to being a good steward of the environment. “We consider being a good steward of the environment as one of the most important obligations we have,” Fredriksen said. “This particular project allowed us to positively illustrate how mining and the subsequent reclamation can be conducted in a sensitive watershed, without harm to an endangered species and with an eye toward the successful return of the area to unmanaged forestland. To be honored by the state of Virginia for our efforts further validates our commitment to our core value of compliance.”
Gary Miller, CONSOL Energy general manager of closed operations, agreed the Vandyke mine reclamation project served as further proof of how mining and environmental stewardship can and do co-exist. “This reclamation project proves once again that the concept of responsible mining, clean coal and the environment can all co-exist,” Miller said.
The mine, which CONSOL acquired in 2000, operated in the Pocahontas No. 10 seam and used the first cut continuous mining method. Coal removal at the site concluded in November 2006. Reclamation of the site began as the mine portals were sealed and all of the coal handling infrastructure was dismantled and recycled beginning in 2007. A regrading plan was initiated to eliminate the highwall face-up area of the mine site. The land was then returned to unmanaged forestland and native vegetation and trees were planted. A total of 2,000 lb of seed mixture was sown and thereafter, 10,000 tree species were planted including White Pine, Loblolly Pine, Northern Red Oak, Pin Oak, Sawtooth Oak, Green Ash, Button Bush, Indigo Bush and Redbud.