The turnover is part of a settlement the producer agreed to with it and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
The reserves in Westmoreland and Fayette counties in southwestern Pennsylvania were held by Alpha subsidiary Rostraver Energy Co., which lie primarily in the Upper Freeport seam. In addition, Alpha will pay $7.5 million to fund land and stream restoration projects at sites in West Virginia ($1.3 million up front at bankruptcy confirmation and $6.2 million over the following two years) and provide $1 million in project labor and equipment time.
Alpha, which owns 2,400 acres of surface property above the reserves, will donate the first $2 million in proceeds from the sale of the land to the groups.
These restoration projects will be implemented by new nonprofit Appalachian Headwaters, which the group said will keep it from ever being mined or burned.
Alpha, in return, will get a three-year deadline extension for its ongoing Clean Water Act suit settlement between the environmentalists and two of the company’s mines. Additionally, the groups will not oppose the producer’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan.
Alpha spokesperson Steve Hawkins said responsible environmental stewardship, both during production and through its state-of-the-art reclamation practices, has been a long-standing focus for the producer.
“This work has included numerous partnerships with local communities, state and federal regulatory agencies, and nongovernmental organizations — and has produced award-winning results across our operating footprint. This settlement is yet another step forward toward ultimate approval of Alpha’s broader plan of reorganization,” he said.