CONSOL Energy earned the West Virginia Coal Association's top honor for reclamation, Friday, when it was named the recipient of the Greenlands Award recognizing outstanding performance in reclamation work it completed at its Consolidation Coal Company's Turkey Gap Complex, near Matoaka, W. Va.
The company also earned the Underground Mining South - Deep Mine Reclamation Award for reclamation of its Consolidation Coal Company's Itmann #3 mine, near Itmann, W. Va. The award recognizes exemplary performance in reclamation of a deep mine facility.
Both awards were presented during a luncheon honoring statewide reclamation award recipients at the 40th annual West Virginia Coal Symposium in Charleston, W. Va. CONSOL Energy Central Appalachia Closed Operations Manager Phil Forshey accepted the awards on behalf of CONSOL Energy.
The Reclamation Awards are co-sponsored by the West Virginia Coal Association and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection. To be eligible, a mining operation must be nominated by its local state inspector. Earl Holt was the nominating inspector on both projects.
Katharine Fredriksen , CONSOL Energy senior vice president of environmental strategy and regulatory affairs, noted the reclamation awards are 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. "These two recognitions from our regulatory agency build on our record of reclamation and demonstrate CONSOL Energy's commitment to environmental stewardship and returning the land to productive use following the completion of mining."
"Further, the awards we received serve to recognize our commitment to our core value of compliance, and they also serve to demonstrate our commitment to not only meet our statutory obligations, but to go beyond what is required," Fredriksen added.
The Turkey Gap reclamation project involved not only the reclamation of the site through planting of native vegetation and tree species, but also involved the reclamation of coal fines from the impoundment area. As a part of the process, CONSOL Energy entered into a lease with a third party operator to process and sell the coal fines from the impoundment area. The new operator was added to the permit and began recovery of the coal fines in the impoundment area in 2005. Through the next five years, approximately 736,000 tons of coal was shipped to market from the site. Reclamation of that impoundment area began in 2011 following the completion of the coal fines recovery and was completed in 2012.
The refuse disposal facility was re-graded, diversion ditches were installed and the post mining land use of unmanaged forestland was implemented. A total of 7,070 pounds of wildlife seed was planted and will be followed by tree planting this spring. Among the tree species targeted for planting include wildlife supporting species, namely White Oak, Crab Apple, Maple and Hazelnut.
"The Turkey Gap project utilized the talents of many CONSOL Energy employees to make this project a success," said Gary Miller , CONSOL Energy general manager of closed operations. "We had teams that designed the carbon recovery plan, implemented the mining plan and marketed and sold the product. Once the mining operations were completed, we worked with additional teams who designed and implemented the reclamation project.
"I believe this is one of the ultimate coal industry reclamation and recycling projects," Miller continued. "First, we recovered more than 1,000 tons of steel from the site and then we went on to recover almost 750,000 tons of coal lost during the cleaning process at the operation. The recovered coal was utilized in both the thermal and metallurgical markets, providing raw materials for steel making and affordable energy to the nation."
The Itmann project involved the elimination and reclamation of two large temporary in-stream sedimentation ponds at the site. After re-grading, CONSOL Energy implemented a riparian reclamation plan utilizing native vegetation and trees. A total of 2,250 pounds of seed mixture was sown and 5,260 trees, including Black Cherry, Persimmon, Button Bush, Gray Dogwood and Serviceberry, were planted.
A second important goal of the site reclamation was the development of long-term drainage control. The original mine site contained two large in-stream ponds which collected water from disturbed areas of the mine site. It was recognized the ponds would eventually have to be removed and another means of diverting upstream water would be required. The goal was achieved through the construction of an open channel along the centerline of the natural valley. CONSOL Energy milled rock found on-site for the stream re-establishment which provided for a more natural look to the site than if quarry rock had been brought in and used instead.
As site biodiversity continues to mature, multiple habitats and food for numerous species of wildlife will be found on both sites, Miller noted.