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Once a surface mine has been tapped out, the excavated area can pose numerous hazards to surrounding communities. Abandoned mines have been associated with acid run-offs that contaminate local waterways. Highwalls, dilapidated mine structures and open shafts are obvious safety hazards to children who might play in the area. Residents often use abandoned mines as trash dumps, which contributes to rural blight and depresses land values.

To mitigate these hazards, the U.S. Department of the Interior awards and funds mining interests that actively seek to restore excavated landscapes to near-original conditions.

According to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977, placing coal combustion by-products (CCPs) such as fly ash on a mine site as part of a comprehensive restoration program usually benefits both human health and the environment. Using CCPs can also improve a project's economics when used as a non-toxic fill in the excavated area prior to grading and final reclamation.

Use fly ash and other CCPs as:

  • An alkaline seal or fill material to contain acid forming materials and prevent the formation of acid mine drainage.
  • An agricultural supplement to create artificial soil on abandoned mine lands where native soils are not available.
  • A flowable fill that seals and stabilizes abandoned underground mines to prevent subsidence and the production of acid mine drainage.
  • A construction material for dams to create a compact and durable base.
  • A non-toxic fill material for final pits within the spoil area to reduce reclamation costs.

By using fly ash and other CCPs in mine reclamation, you can:

  • Improve the quality of water in local lakes and streams
  • More rapidly re-establish wildlife populations and aquatic habitats
  • Accelerate the return of grass lands, wildlife and water fowl
  • Promote stable long-term land utilization
  • Increase local land value

In addition to promoting environmental stewardship, proactive mine reclamation can help your company avoid future liabilities associated with acidic water discharges, erosion and sediment pollution, subsidence, and other environmental pollution-related hazards.

For more information on how you can use fly ash and other CCPs in your mine reclamation efforts, contact us today.

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