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Mine Reclamation

Regardless of the type of mine, erosion and sediment control is a must. Sediment control is essential to coal mine reclamation under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). While each state may have its own requirements for reclamation, they are ever-present and are facing increased scrutiny for doing what is not only required, but also what is best for wildlife, water quality, the environment –and public opinion.

Erosion control efforts are used on mine sites for use in reforestation, revegetation and/or development of sediment ponds. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation documents note that the main sources of sediment associated with surface mining include 1) haul and access roads, 2) areas of active mining, 3) areas being cleared for mining activities, and 4) areas in the process of reclamation.

Developing sediment ponds is no small task. It begins with site selection and analysis of the hydrology. Such study reveals the sediment yield and challenges facing the pond site designer. It is at this time, that the designers will begin considering the erosion control measures needed.

A mix of erosion control blankets and wattles are used to manage the runoff volume and concentrate sediments as needed. Bank structures are both established and revegetated to aid in this sediment management, as well as reinforce the stability of the sediment pond.

Whether working on an area-wide or linear mine site, begin by thinking from the top down. Soil erosion turns valuable topsoil into a pollutant. Erosion control measures can reduce these threats and reduce costly reclamation efforts.

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