Ten Virginia companies were recognized for excellence in coal mining and reclamation. The companies were presented awards by the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance (VCEA) Virginia House of Delegates, and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) at the 45th annual fall meeting held at the Russell County Conference Center in Lebanon, Virginia, on November 28. Jeff Taylor, chairman VCEA; Delegate Will Morefield, Virginia House of Delegates; Butch Lambert, DMME deputy director; Randy Casey, Mined Land Reclamation director; and Randy Moore, Virginia mine chief, presented the awards.

Best Innovation in Mining and Reclamation: GOBCO LLC, Hurricane Fork Gob Pile, Russell County. In reclaiming the Hurricane Fork Gob Pile, GOBCO LLC incorporated natural stream restoration techniques on 1,800 feet of Hurricane Fork. Efforts such as this have led to restoring Dumps Creek back to health. A boy scout placed bird houses and bat boxes over the entire project area for his eagle scout project.

15-year Legacy Award: Motivation Coal Co., Russell County. This mining operation was a re-mining operation — retrieving coal left behind when the original mine closed before 1977. Nearly all of the highwalls left behind from the historic mining were removed. The majority of the site was reclaimed for a diverse and thriving land use of unmanaged forest, gas wells and lines were installed, and a permanent impoundment or dam was kept for fishing and recreation.

Best AML Enhancement: GOBCO LLC, Hurricane Fork Gob Pile, Russell County. GOBCO wins this award for the fourth year in a row. GOBCO is a major fuel supplier for Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC). Through the abandoned mine land enhancement project, GOBCO recovers waste coal from the gob pile, sells it to VCHEC for fuel and uses proceeds from the coal sales to offset the cost of the reclamation. Hurricane Fork Gob Pile was the single worst AML impact to water quality in the Clinch River watershed.

Best Completed Deep Mine: Red River Coal Co. Inc., Wise County. The Race 2 underground mine was an operation in the Taggart seam on Red River Coal Co. Inc. The company properly reclaimed the underground mine and completed all backfilling, grading and seeding the area.

Best Completed Surface Mine: Paramont Coal Co., Virginia LLC. The post-mining land use on this site is a good example of unmanaged forest land use. This site has also been nominated for Office of Surface Mining and National Association of State Land Reclamationists (NASLR) awards. This permit won the 2016 NASLR award for coal reclamation.

Best Active Surface Mine: Ridgetop Development LLC, Wise County. This is a surface mine that covers more than 74 acres in which three coal seams are mined.The permit was issued from DMME in April 2014, and currently the company is working to add more than 93 acres for additional mining. Ridgetop Development is conducting an excellent surface mining operation in returning the mined area to approximate original contour. The post mining land use is undeveloped and unmanaged forest. Clay material has been removed from the site on occasion. It has been used for construction and maintenance purposes at the adjacent Wise County Landfill.

Best Post-mining Land Use: Clintwood Elkhorn Mining LLC, Buchanan County. This site has excellent ground cover and good success rate for the planted trees. According to Dale Dotson of Clintwood Elkhorn Mining, approximately 200 fruit trees were planted on the reclaimed site.

Best Combination Mining: Lone Mountain Processing Inc., Lee County. For the fourth year in a row, Lone Mountain Processing was recognized for its processing operation and refuse disposal site. This site is well-maintained and in full compliance with all environmental and reclamation requirements.

Best Active Deep Mine: Buchanan Minerals LLC, Buchanan County. This large and complex underground mine has an outstanding compliance record and has invested millions of dollars to protect the environment.

Best Completed Fill: Island Creek Coal Co., Buchanan County. Island Creek constructed and reclaimed this refuse fill in accordance with all requirements. The reclaimed refuse facility is extremely well vegetated.

Best Stewardship in Mining and Reclamation: Dominion, Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, Wise County. Dominion purchases fuel from responsible sources where environmental protection and reclamation are fully incorporated into operations. Implementing the design plan for VCHEC, a significant percentage of its fuel is from gob piles, leading to the complete removal of environmentally degrading gob piles at little cost to state agencies.