Reclamation

 

Mined land must be returned to its approximate original contour, with the exception of mountaintop removal operations, in accordance with the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.

According to the 1977 law, mountaintops may be reclaimed as flat land, leaving the land more valuable for development.  Reclaimed land must be as useful as the land was before mining.  Land is frequently more valuable and useful after mining reclamation.

Stringent regulations govern the design, operation, and environmental impact of every mine.  Mining and reclamation sites are inspected on a regular basis by state inspectors.  Federal inspectors also conduct random oversight inspections.

Kentucky coal operators through FY 2004 have paid $898.6 million into the Federal Abandoned Mine Land program to reclaim land mined prior to August 3, 1977.

Before surface mining begins, Kentucky coal operators must post bonds to ensure proper reclamation.

Under Kentucky’s 1984 Permanent Program or “Primacy Program”, bonds are not fully released until a coal operator has demonstrated five years of consecutive successful reclamation (see chart below).

As of December 2005, the Kentucky mining industry had a total of 8,502 outstanding bonds, valued at $779.9 million.  The bonds assure timely and successful reclamation.

Mining reclamation bonds are released in the following phases:


Bond Release
Phase

Reclamation
Release Type

% of Bond
Released

Time/Phase Requirement


  Phase I

Backfilling, grading, seeding, and drainage

60%

Complete landscaping

  Phase II

Vegetation

25%

Two years of successful reclamation

  Phase III

Final

15%

Five years of consecutive successful reclamation


Successful Mining Reclamation / Primacy Bond Releases, 1984-2005

                Phase I                

             Phase II            

             Phase III          

Year

# of Releases

Acres*
Released

Bond

# of Releases

Acres*
Released

Bond

# of Releases

Acres*
Released

Bond


1984

4

123

$    277,886

-

-

$                   

-

-

$                   

1985

40

767

 1,946,323

2

84

 79,841

1

8

$11,600

1986

248

6,361

16,781,470

-

-

-

1

14

16,800

1987

332

8,379

21,390,109

11

253

289,767

4

155

284,300

1988

561

15,583

38,194,394

57

1,303

1,261,810

-

-

-

1989

446

16,777

32,058,350

60

1,632

1,967,811

3

21

38,500

1990

533

15,383

28,108,146

260

7,298

6,221,870

51

1,697

1,569,147

1991

626

14,642

28,373,662

428

12,667

11,200,897

130

2,958

6,890,877

1992

670

18,278

33,822,612

477

13,338

11,489,035

255

8,101

6,811,872

1993

498

13,893

25,386,134

416

12,661

11,242,965

448

15,986

8,629,089

1994

452

15,933

27,423,038

319

10,828

9,768,647

406

14,098

8,709,946

1995

525

16,650

32,343,224

427

13,141

12,399,017

517

18,419

16,338,524

1996

619

23,968

47,602,996

419

14,784

17,378,599

784

27,018

22,365,232

1997

393

13,179

23,571,000

373

13,323

13,463,098

806

30,768

29,923,783

1998

351

12,646

28,589,902

255

8,104

9,370,064

747

21,387

18,859,893

199935711,25920,644,1781925,9716,719,38360219,77423,043,414
200028510,23718,529,9712066,3809,449,94258720,67817,215,050
20012689,83713,321,0341757,96312,064,79043913,27414,176,508
200239814,38019,236,1981425,9296,130,20744915,38416,013,176
200339612,29616,879,5631435,8555,424,04436710,46211,291,162
200432811,97418,229,8561363,9413,581,10641210,77213,163,416
20052419,21615,148,8931314,9223,980,04931412,73212,419,565

Total

8,571

271,761

$507,858,939

4,629

150,377

$153,482,942

7,323

243,706

$227,771,854


*Note:  Includes surface acreage over underground mines.

Source:  Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Department for Surface Mining, Reclamation & Enforcement..