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Marshall Miller & Associates Environmental Reclamation Process

Environmental reclamation (also known as land restoration) is a fixture of modern and responsible mining standards and practices. Marshall Miller & Associates (MM&A) can implement land restoration operations in steps as a mining operation matures or do so all at once when mining operations cease. These steps include regrading and replanting, reestablishing and preserving water quality, and conserving soil removed from a site so it can be returned to the land. At all times, MM&A’s environmental reclamation standards remain faithful to federal and state laws and the ever-changing regulations that continue to challenge the mining industry over time. MM&A provides three primary services to guide our clients through the reclamation process.

1. Environmental Permitting

MM&A sees the task of responsible environmental reclamation as a “work in progress” that takes place over the entire lifecycle of a surface or underground mine. It begins with the approval of an environmental reclamation plan by relevant government authorities (permit) in advance of mine operations. The permit is informed by studying the area’s natural geology, plants, water, soil, and wildlife. MM&A relies on this documentation to restore the land to its original state as much as possible after mining operations are completed.

Using the terms and conditions outlined in a permit, regulators conduct periodic compliance inspections until a mining site is fully restored. More broadly, land reclamation includes preserving, protecting, restoring and possibly even improving the land for other uses in a process known as sustainable development. These uses include residential and commercial development, farming, reforestation, recreational lakes, and estuaries and other valuable purposes.

Over the years, we have worked to establish and maintain an extraordinary working relationship with regulatory agencies, and even assist these organizations when asked to contribute to specific components of mining-related environmental regulations. These relationships help us provide our clients with efficient and cost-effective permitting services that comply with all aspects of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), state environmental laws, and specialized local and state permit requirements.

Specifically, MM&A works closely with federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Army Corps of Engineers, Office of Surface Mining, and Fish and Wildlife Service to complete Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), Environmental Assessments (EAs), Categorical Exclusions (CEs) and Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSIs) – documents that guide the environmental reclamation process.

2. Coal Refuse, Ash Disposal & Dam Facility Engineering

MM&A brings a wealth of geotechnical engineering experience to bear on the task of restoring the natural environment to a mining site once mining operations cease. Our staff of qualified reclamation experts has extensive experience in the design and permitting of coal refuse handling, storage, disposal and other mining activities.

MM&A staff maintain current knowledge of the permitting process and regularly works with federal authorities, state agencies and related parties who are responsible for the review and issuance of refuse disposal permits. The expertise of our personnel with the permitting process in various states allows us to provide our clients with efficient, cost-effective, and timely permitting services.

3. Geotechnical Laboratory Testing Services

MM&A offers a full range of Geotechnical Laboratory Testing services associated with the design, evaluation, and construction of coal refuse disposal facilities, ash waste disposal facilities, and embankment dams. These services include:

• Visual identification of mining-related dangers. • Index properties testing of soil at mining sites. • Compaction testing to determine the optimum moisture content of a soil type necessary to achieve its maximum dry density. • Hydraulic conductivity testing to determine the ease with which pores of a saturated soil permit water movement. • Static strength testing to determine the ability of soil and rock formations to withstand the weight of surface structures. • Consolidation properties testing to determine how much the volume of a soil type can be reduced by decreasing the water content of a soil sample without the replacement of water through precipitation. • Rock properties testing that geologists use to identify minerals and rocks in and around mining sites based hardness, color, streak, luster, cleavage, and chemical reaction. • Construction Management and Quality Control Testing to assist clients in project initation.
About the Author

Marshall Miller & Associates performs a wide range of geological, environmental, hydrogeological and mining engineering services. MM&A’s seasoned staff of engineering personnel delivers design solutions for a variety of projects and industry-specific applications.