Mining under stream given nod

THE Pennsylvania state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will allow longwall mining to proceed under a small creek in Washington County, as long as steps are put in place to prevent any damage to the stream.

Staff Reporter

Operations at Maple Creek Mining Inc’s High Quality Mine and preparation plant in Fallowfield Township, Washington County, were shut down on July 8.

Maple Creek shut down the operations at the end of its 3,500 foot, 4-East panel after the DEP denied a permit change request for the steam to be undermined and possibly damaged, with any damage repaired after mining.

The current mining permit was granted with revisions in 2002 and included no subsidence zones under streams.

The 4-East panel has already undermined the stream and caused some damage the company has since repaired but it is in disagreement with the DEP about the extent of the damage caused.

The next panel is however shallower than the previous panel and is less than 200 feet under the creek, making damage by longwall mining more likely.

The High Quality mine resumed operations on July 15 while talks continued between the company and the DEP focused on measures the company must take to prevent subsidence from damaging the stream bed and diminishing the water flow.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week DEP officials had revised the mine permit, allowing the mining under the stream, after the company agreed to strengthen the streambed by injecting grout into the rock strata below the stream.

The company also posted a US$250,000 collateral bond, providing money the state could draw upon immediately to take corrective action if mining damages the stream.

In addition to the grouting operation, the mining company agreed to provide water wells that could augment the flow of the stream if subsidence damage occurred.

The streambed was reported grouted last week but a roof fall near the mine entry left several steel support arches sagging and mining was shut down until roof reinforcement was complete. Mining is expected to resume this week.