Coal Mining: Permitting Process

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Post Wed. Dec. 19, 2012 6:10 am

A few weeks ago a Gold Mine started up in California which had closed in 1954. The one sentence that jumped out at me in that article was that it took 30 years, and 40 environmental permits before it could start up. 30 YEARS? 40 Environmental Permits? And I thought farming was bad!

I would like to think that the NEPA Region would have it a bit easier as they could claim Grandfathered Status since this area was actively mined, but that does not seem to be the case as this Gold Mine was in the exact same circumstance; it was looking to get re-permitted for an existing, but bankrupt, mining operation.

I have only been to one mine and that was the Black Thunder Mine in Wright, Wyoming and at that time (1998 or so), they had permits for 30 years, but had to go through some serious hoops to get the coal out. Since they are a strip mine, they had to digitally map the area first, and save the topsoil. As the Superintendent told me, if a big rock was there before they stripped off the 130 feet of overburden, and then dug out the 90 foot coal seam, when they filled back in the hole, that same rock would be in the exact same place, with the same contours and everything. It would look as if it had never been touched, and they went to some impressive trouble to obtain this. The man also said that while they have permits for only 30 years, the Powder River Coal Seam actually extends into Montana and even up into Canada and that at the current rate, it should last another 300-400 years.

But that is prairie ground that the Federal Government owns. I see the Nature Conservancy owns a fair chunk of land in the NEPA Region and wonder what it takes to start up a mine there now? While it is probably easier, I assume UAE Harmony, Blasck Coal, Reading and Kimmels must also be presented with some challenges on extending their mining operations as well.

I am not going to go out and dump 5 gallons of gasoline in my local lake, but Good Knight Man, 30 years to obtain 40 permits to start up a mine again, is that not a bit complex for just doing a little digging? What is next; a digging permit for my daughter to play in her sand box?!!

Here is a picture taken near Black Thunder Mine to give you an idea of how flat and open the country is out there...ideal conditions to strip mine. I can't imagine the difficulties in mining in PA.
SD 90 Head On.JPG

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Post Thu. Dec. 20, 2012 1:53 pm

What is that?Your daughter has a sand box? Well,if there is silica in that sand,we have to run dust tests,her lungs might be torn to shreds!Call MSHA,they can help,I am sure!

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