The 2011 winner in the coal category is Patriot Coal Co., Patriot surface mine, located near Henderson County, Henderson, Ky. At one time, the permit totaled a little more than 1,000 acres divided into eight separate bond increments. All reclamation of the disturbed area has been completed and all reclamation bonds released, with the exception of one increment covering nearly 100 acres which remains active. After two previous permit holders declared bankruptcy, the permit area was transferred to Patriot Coal. In 2001, at the time of the transfer, there were two un-reclaimed open-pits along with several hundred acres of barren spoil and several hundred acres of reclamation covered with rills and gulllies that had developed since the mine had been shut down.
In 2006, the permit was subsequently transferred to Patriot Coal (this transfer was due to a partnership change). Approximately four million tons of coal had been mined from the site when it was active. Although the permit no longer included any remaining mineable coal, Patriot purchased the property as part of a larger acquisition to increase its coal reserves at nearby sites. Although there was no further profitable mining to offset reclamation costs, Patriot finished the major reclamation projects left behind by the bankrupt companies, thereby saving valuable abandoned mine land reclamation fees. The post-mining land uses for the permit included cropland, pastureland, and “fish and wildlife.”
A notable feature of the reclamation work completed by Patriot is the amount of prime farmland that has been restored on the permit. Of the 840 prime farmland acres, all but around 60 acres have been completely reclaimed and all bonds released. A highlighted feature of the area is a 32-acre final pit impoundment that Patriot Coal reclaimed from the final pit left behind by one of the previous permit holders that went bankrupt. A large portion of this area is currently slated to become a part of the Henderson County Park system. Several unique features are slated to be constructed by the county in association with the park.
The awards were presented at a banquet being held in conjunction with IMCC’s Annual Meeting during April. Also receiving recognition for honorable mention in the coal category is Vigo Coal Operating Co., Inc., Friendsville mine, located in Wabash County in Mount Carmel, Ill.