Category Archives: Mining

Development of Abandoned Mine Lands is Focus of Federal Pilot Program Funding Granted to Virginia in May 2017

In May 2017, Virginia was chosen to receive federal funds for economic development of abandoned mine lands under the Power Plus Pilot Program, part of the federal Ominbus Bill passed in May 2017.  More information on this program  is available online at  According to that Web site, Virginia “was one of the states chosen to receive $10 million to develop Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites.  The grant comes from the Power Plus Pilot Program which was part of the federal Omnibus Funding Bill passed in May 2017.  Projects completed with the funds will not only be designed to boost the economy of southwest Virginia’s coalfields but will also improve the environment.”

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy formed an Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Funding Advisory Group to assist the DMME by reviewing grant proposals and making recommendations to DMME on which pilot projects to propose to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining.  The Advisory Group is next scheduled to meet on 11/8/17, 9:00 a.m., at the DMME office, 3405 Mountain Empire Road in Big Stone Gap, in Wise County (click on the meeting date to access meeting information from the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall).


Mining Reclamation Conference Held April 9-13, 2017, in Morgantown, W. Va.

On April 9-13, 2017, in Morgantown, W. Va., “What’s Next for Reclamation?” was presented by  the West Virginia Mine Drainage Task Force, the American Society of Mining and Reclamation, and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.  More information about the meeting is available online at

The meeting included two presentations by scientists connected with the Virginia Water Resources Research Center (which produces this Water Central News Grouper blog).  Center Director Stephen Schoenholtz presented “Water Quality and Biotic Condition in Mining-influenced Appalachian Headwater Streams: An Overview of a Long-term Study.”  Kriddie Whitmore, a graduating master’s student under Dr. Schoenholtz, presented “Selenium Dynamics in Mining-Influenced Headwater Streams of Central Appalachia.”

Elkins Branch Landslide Mining Reclamation Project in Buchanan County, Va., Receives $400,000 Grant in June 2016

On June 3, 2016, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) announced that is will receive a $400,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to help stabilize a surface-mining-related landslide in the Elkins Branch area of Buchanan County.  The approximately 15-acre slide area resulting from mining prior to 1977, prior to passage of the federal Surface Mining and Reclamation Act.  This resulted in the area becoming an “abandoned mine land” (AML) area.  DMME states that the total Elkins Branch reclamation project—including the stabilization, removing the displaced slide material (which is partially blocking Elkins Branch), installing erosion and sediment controls, and revegetating the area—is expected to cost about $2 million and will be one of the largest ever undertaken during the 38 years of Virginia’s AML reclamation program.

State grant to aid in landslide cleanup, Bristol Herald Courier, 6/5/16.

“Water Quality Improvement Grant to help Stabilize Dangerous Landslide in Buchanan County caused by Historic Coal Mining,” Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy News Release, 6/3/16, online (as PDF) at

“Public Notice of Intent to Enter to Conduct Reclamation Activities (Abandoned Mine Land Program) in the Matter of: Elkins Branch Landslide Project,” Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy Public Notice, 7/16/15, online (as PDF) at

Virginia Uranium Federal Lawsuit against Virginia Officials over Uranium Mining Moratorium Dismissed in District Court in Danville, Va., on Dec. 2, 2015; Second Lawsuit, in State Court, Filed in Wise County on November 25, 2015; Trial Scheduled to Begin August 30, 2017

On December 2, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Jackson L. Kiser dismissed the federal lawsuit by Virginia Uranium, Inc., and three affiliated companies against Virginia state officials over the company’s proposal to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County.  Virginia Uranium was seeking to overturn the Commonwealth’s moratorium on uranium mining, which was established by the General Assembly in 1982.  The case was in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, which has courts in Danville, Roanoke, and five other locations; the Web site for that District Court is

Defendants in the lawsuit were Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, and eight state employees of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Department of Environmental Quality.  Judge Kiser ruled that those defendants were not sufficiently connected to the 1982 enactment of the moratorium for them to be subject to the companies’ lawsuit.  Judge Kiser also ruled against the companies’ claim that federal law on uranium mining should supersede the Virginia moratorium and give sole authority over the companies’ mining proposal to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Meanwhile, on November 25, 2015, Virginia Uranium filed a second lawsuit, this one in Wise County Circuit Court, alleging that the Commonwealth’s uranium-mining moratorium amounts to a “taking” of property without compensation, in violation of the Virginia Constitution. (Similar to the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section 11 of the Virginia Constitution states, “…The General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property….shall be damaged or taken except for public use. No private property shall be damaged or taken for public use without just compensation to the owner thereof.”  The Virginia Constitution is available online at   Pre-trial motions and arguments in this lawsuit began in October 2016.  In March 2017, Judge Chadwick Dotson announced that the lawsuit will go to trial on August 30, 2017.

Sources and ongoing list of news items (newest listed first):
Uranium lawsuit heading to trial in Virginia, Danville Register & Bee, 4/5/17.
State questions safety, profitability in uranium mining case, Danville Register and Bee, 12/20/16.
Judge hears arguments in second lawsuit over uranium mining ban, Roanoke Times, 10/7/16.
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over Va. uranium mining, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/2/15.
Virginia Uranium files second suit over mining moratorium, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/25/15.
Virginia Uranium, state attorneys trade jabs in pretrial hearing, Danville Register & Bee, as published by Roanoke Times, 11/6/15.
Judge adds October court date to uranium case, Danville Register & Bee, 9/17/15.
River associations seek say on Va. uranium mining lawsuit, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/9/15.
Trial dates set for Virginia Uranium complaint, Danville Register & Bee, 9/1/15.
Virginia Uranium goes to court for right to mine, process nuclear fuel, Roanoke Times, 8/5/15.
Uranium company sues Virginia over the right to mine huge deposit, Washington Post, 8/5/15.

Other Water Central News Grouper items on proposed uranium mining in Virginia are available at this link:

$1 Million Abandoned Mine Land Grant for Water-system Expansion in Buchanan County, Va., Announced Mar. 25, 2015

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia governor’s office’s Mar. 25, 2015, news release on new funds for public-water expansion in Buchanan County.

Governor McAuliffe Announces $1 Million Funding For Water System Expansion in Buchanan County, 3/25/15.

Excerpt: “…Buchanan County is set to receive a federal grant totaling $1,000,000 to provide public water to 163 homes in the Hurley community that have been affected by past coal mining practices.  The water project has been selected for construction funding under Virginia’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) FY15 Grant administered by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), that will be released in April 2015. … This grant will help fund the sixth phase of the Hurley Regional Water Project, which extends public water service into the Hurley area of Buchanan County.  The project consists of approximately 13.5 miles of water lines, two pump stations, and two tanks. … AML water grants in Buchanan County have totaled $26.8 million and helped provide clean water to 2,197 homes. … Funding for DMME’s water supply replacement projects is through reclamation fees paid by Virginia’s coal industry.  Since 1984, the agency has awarded over $47 million to water projects throughout Southwest Virginia.”

Other news releases from the governor’s office are available online at

Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Dec. 19, 2014—Jan. 8, 2015: Electronics Glass Recycling, Schools and Agriculture, Wastewater Grants for Wise Co., Hunter Safety, Fishery Research Grants, VMRC Permit Application Web Tool, and Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Funds for Va. in FY 2015

Following are titles and short excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for December 19, 2014—January 9, 2015 (as of 10 a.m. on Jan. 9) that relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses that may affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title, or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


Governor McAuliffe Announces 46 New Jobs in City of Bristol; Nulife Glass to invest $5.9 million to establish first Virginia operation, 1/9/15.  Excerpt: “Nulife collects and separates cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors into saleable lead and glass.  The company opened its first North American facility in 2013 near Buffalo, New York, which can process more than 200 million pounds of CRT glass annually in furnaces that can melt the equivalent of 10 tons of TVs each day.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces USDA Funding for Two Programs Connecting Virginia Schools and Farmers, 12/22/14.  Excerpt: “…Virginia was selected for two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awards that will help connect Virginia agricultural producers with school systems statewide. The awards include a USDA grant for Virginia’s Farm-to-School program, as well as a USDA pilot program that will enable Virginia schools to purchase locally grown produce for their school meal programs.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $700,000 in Community Development Block Grants for Charles City and Wise Counties, 12/22/14. Excerpt:  “…Wise County will receive $122,652 for the Wells Boone Sewer Project through the CDBG Construction Ready Water and Sewer Fund. … The Wise County project will provide new public sewer service to the Wells Boone community, alleviating the reliance on aging septic systems that were built in poor soil conditions.  The project is expected to benefit 11 households, with seven of those households being low- to moderate-income.”


A Reminder to Hunters: Think Safety, 12/22/14. Excerpt: “…Whether you are hunting deer, waterfowl or small game, all hunters are encouraged to follow these basic rules for hunting safely. They are: 1) Treat every firearm as if it were loaded; 2) Control the direction of your muzzle, only pointing at what you intend to shoot; 3) Before shooting, identify your game and what is beyond; and 4) When hunting in groups, always plan for a safe zone of fire.”


Fisheries Resource Research Grant program, 1/7/15: “The VIMS Virginia Marine Advisory Services is accepting proposals for the 2015 Fisheries Resource Research Grant program from January 5 through January 31, 2015. Grants are used to help those directly involved with fishing and aquaculture to undertake experiments and studies of innovative methods for enhancing or protecting fisheries in Virginia.  For more information, see or contact Tom Murray at 804-684-7190 or”

Permit applications submitted to Habitat Management Division, 1/5/15: “The Commission has added a web site feature that displays information regarding pending and complete permit applications submitted to our Habitat Management Division.  For more recent projects you can view permit applications, the project status, a project description including dimensions, site photos and see an aerial photograph.  This web feature will provide the public with easy way to access habitat permit application information and locations. Link to page: Habitat Management Permits and Applications Page.


Virginia Receives $4.8 Million for Abandoned Mine Land Projects (opens as PDF), 1/6/15.  Excerpt: The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) today announced the availability of the Fiscal Year 2015 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation fund grants, which will provide more than $226 million to states and tribes to reclaim abandoned coal mines.  The AML grants are funded in part by a fee collected on all coal produced in the United States, and enable 28 eligible states and tribes to help eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining.”

Water in Virginia State Government News Releases for September 19—October 14, 2014: State Energy Plan, Emergency Preparedness Grants, TMDL Implementation Grants, Fall Fire Season Oct. 15-Nov. 30, Earth Science Week Oct. 12-18, and More

Following are titles and short excerpts from water-related or land-use-related Virginia state government news releases between September 19 and October 14, 2014.  Also included are some releases on agricultural or other land activities that use, affect, or depend on water resources. To access the full text of any release, click on the release title or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


Governor McAuliffe Formally Unveils 2014 Virginia Energy Plan, 10/14/14. Excerpt: “Key highlights of the Energy Plan include [the following]: Strategically grow the energy sector by promoting increased development of renewable generation and supporting innovation in nuclear technology.  Reduce energy consumption by aggressively pursuing energy efficiency measures in government, businesses and residences.  Invest in reliable and resilient energy infrastructure to strengthen Virginia’s already strong business climate.  Prepare Virginia’s workforce to drive the future energy economy.”  The full plan is available online at

Governor McAuliffe Announces Homeland Security Grant Awards; Dozens of projects across Virginia will receive federal funding, 10/10/14.  Excerpt: …[M]ore than $4.8 million in federal funds will be awarded to multiple local government agencies [for 79 projects] to enhance emergency preparedness throughout Virginia. The funds, administered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, are from the fiscal year 2014 State Homeland Security Grant program.” Some of the projects address water infrastructure and hazardous materials response.

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Specialty Crop Grants for Virginia, 10/2/14. Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced funding for sixteen agriculture-related projects aimed at promoting and enhancing the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops and creating more economic opportunities. …Specialty crops including apples, wine grapes, sprouts, chestnuts, strawberries, Christmas trees, and more will benefit from the grants. Other grants focus on food safety, protecting honey bees, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) implementation on small farms, marketing and education programs, food safety education, cover crops, nutrient cycling, and more.  Grants range from $20,000 to $50,000 per applicant.”

Governor McAuliffe, First Lady Join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Announce Virginia Receives Nearly $1.2 Million in Funding to Strengthen Local Food Economies, 9/29/14.  Excerpt: “…[T]he Commonwealth was awarded nearly $1.2 million in [U.S. Department of Agriculture] funding to support local food economies. Authorized through the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), Virginia received funding from three participating programs aimed at strengthening organic local and regional food systems through projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities, and increase access to healthy foods.”


Tour Crow’s Nest Nov. 8, 10/14/14.  Excerpt: A field day at Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County will be held Nov. 8, starting at 9 a.m. [Space limited, registration required: phone 804-786-7951.] … The guided hikes offer views of the freshwater tidal marsh and open water surrounding the preserve….  Crow’s Nest is a peninsula between Accokeek and Potomac creeks.  The 2,872-acre preserve contains mature hardwood forest and some of the best examples of diverse, intact wetlands in the Potomac River drainage basin.”

$1.5 million available for water quality improvement projects for water bodies with implementation plans, 10/8/14.  Excerpt: “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is making approximately $1.5 million in federal grant funding available to support Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation projects that will result in advancement of goals and milestones provided in eligible TMDL implementation plans.  Local governments (including counties, cities, and towns), county health departments, soil and water conservation districts, planning district commissions, regional commissions, Virginia institutes of higher education, and Virginia state agencies are eligible to apply.  Applications are due by November 17, 2014.”


Fall Wildfire Season Begins Oct. 15 in Virginia, 10/1/14.  Excerpt: “’While Virginia’s most active wildfire season is typically in spring, fall can be just as busy,’ said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection.  ‘We didn’t have a lot of rain this summer, and the dead leaves are starting to drop from the trees.  This leaf litter is an abundant source of fuel for wildfires, which can spread rapidly during dry and windy days.’ …Fall wildfire season runs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 each year.”

Sunday Hunting Not Permitted on State Forests, 9/30/14.  Excerpt: “Officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry remind all hunters that Sunday hunting on State Forests is prohibited. ‘While a new law allowing hunting in Virginia on Sundays went into effect July 1st, that law applies only to private lands,’ said Gary Heiser, manager of Virginia’s 24 State Forests.   ‘Hunting on Sunday is still prohibited on public lands, including the State Forests.’”


None related to water during this period.


Virginia Department of Health Rescinds Emergency Closing of James River to Shellfish Harvesting, 9/23/14.  Excerpt: “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that the emergency condemnation of the James River adjacent to Newport News—initially closed on September 9—is reopened effective immediately.  This action returns all James River harvest areas to the harvest status in effect prior to the September 9 emergency closure.”


Closure of the Directed Menhaden Pound Net Fishery (opens as PDF), 10/9/14.  Excerpt: “Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Friday, October 10, 2014, the commercial menhaden pound net fishery will close.”

Virginia Marine Resources Commission Acts on Fisheries Violations; Votes Unanimously to Revoke Licenses [of repeat offenders] (opens as PDF), 9/23/14.


Governor Declares Earth Science Week (opens as PDF), 10/10/14.  The week is October 12—18, 2014.

DMME Reclamation Specialist Recieves National Award (opens as PDF), 10/2/14.  Excerpt: “The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Reclamation Specialist and Field Supervisor, Ken Coomer, has been awarded the Dean Spindler Reclamationist of the Year Award for 2014 from the National Association of State Land Reclamationists.”