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Importing material to mine sites

This page provides information about bringing in offsite material to a permitted coal or noncoal mine site for reclamation, beneficial use, or disposal purposes.

Material can be brought onto a mine site only with written approval from the District Mining Office under the mining permit. A request to import material will be rejected if the DEP determines there is a potential for pollution to occur or the use of the material will otherwise not meet the requirements of the mining regulations that govern that particular type of mining permit (25 Pa. Code Chs 77, 87-90).

Waste generated on site, such as oil and grease, paints, flammable liquids, garbage, tires, scrap, or hazardous waste, must be disposed of under the Solid Waste Management Act and existing regulations.

Beneficial Use

The permittee must demonstrate that material imported to the site has a beneficial use. Examples of beneficial uses include enhanced reclamation, soil improvements, or alkaline addition. The landowner must approve the importing of material to a mine site. Convenience disposal of any amount is not a beneficial use.

Coal ash

Coal ash use on a mine site is regulated under 25 Pa Code Chapter 290: Beneficial Use of Coal Ash. Coal ash use is suitable only for use at active coal sites and their adjacent abandoned areas, not noncoal sites. To use a coal ash at a mine site for reclamation, soil amendment, alkaline additive, or as a low-permeability material, the source of the coal ash must first be certified through the Bureau of Mining Programs. The source must continue to meet the certification requirements as required on a quarterly and annual basis.

Each mine permit must be authorized to use coal ash for a stated purpose. Use of coal ash for structural fill is not authorized for an active mine site.

Coal ash use on any mine site requires an annual fee during placement and until final bond release.

Obtaining source and site approval to use ash is described in this document: 563-2112-228 Guidelines for Beneficial Use of Coal Ash at Coal Mines (PDF).

Fact sheets:
5600-FS-DEP4304 Beneficial Use of Coal Ash at Active Mine Sites (PDF)

5600-FS-DEP4305 Coal Ash Monitoring Parameters and Certification Standards (PDF)

Application forms:

  • Coal Ash Beneficial Use Certification Application 5600-PM-BMP0011
  • Coal Ash Quality Assessment for Beneficial Use 5600-PM-BMP0012
  • Coal Ash Water Quality Monitoring Report 5600-PM-BMP0014

Waste GP materials

Materials that are approved under a Bureau of Waste Management General Permit (GP) may be used on a mine site if such a use is allowed under that GP. Examples of such materials include coal ash mixtures, biosolids, paper waste material, flue gas desulfurization material, and lime kiln dust. Authorization under a GP does not guarantee that the material will be suitable for any particular mine site. As with Coal Ash use, the permittee must demonstrate beneficial use and obtain specific approval under the mining permit prior to use. Criteria in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 290 may be applied to determine if the material is suitable for use on a mine site and that its use will not cause pollution. A water monitoring plan for the placement site is usually required. For coal mines, a permittee may be required to complete Module 25 or 27 of the mining permit application or form 5600-PM-BMP0433 Beneficial Use of Imported Material.

Some uses of waste GP materials on a mine site may require an annual fee as described in §290.104(c).

Obtaining approval to use GP material is described in this document: 563-2112-001 Beneficial Use of General Permit (GP) Materials at Active Coal Mines.

For noncoal mines, see “Reclamation Fill” section.

Reclamation Fill

Other than approved coal refuse, coal ash, or GP material, no fill material can be used on a coal mining permit including “clean fill”. Structural or other fill material can be used only after the reclamation bond is released on these sites. An exception may be made for structures that are necessary for the mine site operation provided that these plans are approved under the existing mining permit.

Imported material for a noncoal mine is designated as Reclamation Fill and must meet certain quality criteria in addition to serving a beneficial use. Consult the document 563-2000-301 Use of Reclamation Fill at Active Noncoal Sites for definitions, requirements, and the process to obtain approval for an individual mine site. The Mining Program only regulates importing fill for active noncoal mines, not abandoned quarries.

Drill cuttings

Cores or cuttings from groundwater monitoring wells that are associated with a mining permit can be placed onsite provided that the rock and soil is uncontaminated. However, drill cuttings from offsite wells would require approval under a GP or reclamation fill to be imported to a mine site as a beneficial use.

Black shale formations, such as the Marcellus shale, contain pyrite and other sulfide minerals that are unstable under atmospheric conditions. These sulfide minerals weather readily which results in acidic drainage and the potential leaching of metals leading to surface and groundwater pollution. Using established acid mine drainage prediction techniques, and after conducting a review of data collected from locations where Marcellus shale was exposed or used in construction projects, the Bureau of Mining Programs has determined that drill cuttings from offsite gas wells in these formations would not meet the requirements for beneficial use and are not suitable for use on any mine site. The Pennsylvania Geological Survey produced a map of these formations: Geologic Units Containing Potentially Significant Acid-Producing Sulfide Minerals (Open-File Report (OFMI) 05–01.1) (Zip). The DEP evaluation is available upon request to