The coal mining company says current St. Michael discharge is responsible for as much as 44% of the total acid mine drainage load to the river. By lowering the mine pool and treating the acid mine drainage, Rosebud will not only improve the facility’s environmental impact but will be able to access coal reserves, which the company says will take up to 40 years to mine.

According to the Environmental Leader, Rosebud has signed a consent order and agreement with the PADEP to build and operate the plant. The $15 million facility will be completed by April. Rosebud has about 1,100 acres of mineable land, and once it reduces the level of the mine pool water, it will have access to an additional 10,562 acres.

Under the agreement with PADEP, Rosebud is responsible for all costs to treat the mine pool water. The company has also agreed to make annual payments to a trust fund, which will be used to permanently pay the operations, maintenance and recapitalization costs for the discharge treatment facility once mining is completed.

The facility almost didn’t happen, however.

PADEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko said the company’s original treatment plan—under which the treated water would still not have met EPA standards—“threatened to kill the project.”

To fix the problem, PADEP worked with Rosebud and the EPA to come up with the agreement for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit for the St. Michael facility.