October 11, 2013

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Mike Harding Presents at Mine Reclamation Symposium

Michael V. Harding, CPESC, CESSWI, a senior consultant for Geosyntec based in California, is an invited speaker at the 37th Annual BC Mine Reclamation Symposium, underway this week in Vancouver.

Mr. Harding presented the opening paper at the symposium, "Above the Coal Mines: The Evolution of Mining Reclamation in the United States."

In preparing the presentation, Mr. Harding and Don Wile, a former engineer and mine superintendent for the Peabody Coal Company, conducted a ground and aerial survey of old mining operations in west-central Indiana. Their survey results document coalmine reclamation in the region as it was practiced from the 1940s to present day.

In 1978, Mr. Harding was a co-author of the Indiana coalmine reclamation regulations that followed the implementation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. Working within those regulations, as Peabody Coal Company's reclamation supervisor for the Sycamore Mining Complex, Mr. Harding designed and implemented unique reclamation approaches that not only resulted in long-term benefits for wildlife and recreation, but also saved grading and reclamation costs for Peabody Coal.

His presentation at the Mine Reclamation Symposium offers a glimpse into the principles that have guided Mr. Harding in his reclamation design and implementation on projects worldwide, including:

  • That engineers and designers can learn by observing the examples of past reclamation in the coal fields;
  • That it is possible to extract coal using good approaches and eliminate poor practices through proper planning and implementation;
  • That it is important to examine the physical and biological resources available to determine what rehabilitation nature would achieve in the absence of mining and "set the table" for that succession; and,
  • That engineers, designers, and mine owners should look beyond their own life spans to set rehabilitation goals.

This week's symposium host is the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation, which was formed in the 1970s to promote greater government-industry communications in the area of environmental protection and reclamation associated with mining.