Bituminous Mining Permits Section Description
The Bituminous Mining Permits Section consists of mining engineers, hydro-geologists, aquatic biologists, and civil engineers. The major functions of the section include:
- Review of permit applications related to the underground mining of bituminous coal, coal preparation plants, and coal refuse disposal sites. Other permits include long term water treatment permits and various permits related to use of dams and Commonwealth waterways.
- Provide technical expertise on complaints related to water supplies, streams, springs, wetlands, and other surface waters. Other investigations may be from noise complaints or anything that is related to mining activity where technical support is needed.
- Monitor and verify the progression of active underground mining
- Provide information to the general public, consultants, and other governmental agencies regarding active or recent underground bituminous coal mining activity
- Conduct Informal Conferences on various mining activity proposals. The Informal Conference time is used to take testimony and address individual concerns of local residents and landowners about proposed mining activity.
Permit application reviews for mining activities are usually performed by a "team" of professionals. Usually a mining engineer, civil engineer, hydrogeologist, and an aquatic biologist make up the permit application review staff for a new underground bituminous coal mine proposal. The effect of mining on various features is considered for the following: streams, wetlands, water supplies, utilities, homes, barns, silos, pipelines, and roads. Six-month mine maps are reviewed to evaluate the progression of mining and to ensure compliance. Complaints are addressed through field investigations along with written documentation of the findings.
During the months of July – December 2008, the California District Mining Office evaluated over 10,000 acres of underground coal mining area. At any point in time, the section is usually processing over 150 applications covering a variety of operations from minor modifications to extensive revisions, as well as new underground mines. At the beginning of 2009; these applications covered over 20,000 new acres for underground coal removal, (almost 12,000 of which were proposed for longwall or full extraction coal removal). The in-process applications also included nine (9) new underground coal mining permit applications, eight (8) of which were proposed for room and pillar operations.