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Powder River coal mine awarded for reclamation efforts

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin has received state recognition for its reclamation efforts.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recognized the Coal Creek Mine with its 2022 Excellence in Mining Reclamation Award for coal.

Coal Creek Mine is operated by Thunder Basin Coal Company south of Gillette.

Matt Kunze, the natural resources program supervisor for the Wyoming DEQ land quality division, said the award is given out annually to an operator that is meeting or exceeding reclamation goals for an area.

“So, what this company did was move resources from their larger mine Black Thunder to the Coal Creek Mine to complete reclamation at three of their four active pits,” Kunze said. “So, they really focused on accelerating the reclamation timetable at the Coal Creek Mine.”

Kunze said the next stage of reclamation will involve placing topsoil and seeding the land for vegetation.

“The end goal is to really support this post mining land use,” Kunze said. “At the Coal Creek Mine, the post mining land use is typically grazing land and wildlife habitat.”

According to the Wyoming DEQ, this is the first time in Coal Creek Mine’s history, the reclaimed acres exceeds the active mining acres.

Wyoming requires mines to be reclaimed once mining operations are complete.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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