In considering the proposed deep mine, we thought it appropriate to reflect on recent issues caused by historic deep mines in our area. In 2013 we had a collapse in the Melcroft No. 1 mine along Route 711. This collapse cost the Commonwealth over $400,000 and overwhelmed our Kalp Treatment System (discharge seen at left), which now has to be refurbished at a cost of roughly $305,000. Also, one of the underground discharges treated by our Sagamore Treatment System changed in quality and quantity likely due to an underground collapse. Some concerns about mining in the Indian Creek watershed arise out of the history of mining in this area, but these new problems at Kalp and Sagamore are a result of recent activity underground that could not be foreseen or predicted or forestalled, except to know that these issues are inevitable when mining takes place in an area as fractured and hydrologically variable as this watershed.
In our review of the pre-application for the proposed Donegal/Saltlick deep mine (known as Rustic Ridge), we found:
- The operator LCT is including two areas that were part of the DEP denied and EHB denied area proposed for mining in 1993.
- LCT’s new and previous piezometer data, reviewed by several hydrogeologists, support the fact that discharges will occur.
- Hydrologic modeling clearly shows a downward gradient of the Kittanning aquifer zones toward and into the Melcroft No. 3 mine workings. It is likely there will be increased flow and new occurrences of mine discharges along Indian Creek.
- LCT’s maps show they do not have a stream sample site for Champion Creek upstream of the proposed surface entry of the proposed mine. The only sample site upstream is on a tiny tributary along Thompson Road. Flows at this point are always very low and not representative of Champion Creek.
- Another major issue is that their maps seem to indicate LCT intends to mine updip. Their map in response to the Deficiency Letter shows areas in the northwest part of their proposed mining operation where they would be mining updip. Since it is illegal to permit underground mines that mine updip, they cannot mine this area from where they state the portal entry would be.
- LCT uses too low a rainfall infiltration rate (1500 gpm) in their estimate. Even this underestimated amount, should it fall every day during the final stages of the mining operation, will keep Champion Creek in a constant flood stage, overflowing its banks along several reaches in the first few miles downstream.
For more information on the proposed deep mine contact Beverly.