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The Division of Reclamation (DOR) is responsible for oversight of active coal mining and restoration of land disturbed for coal extraction (Regulatory Section); and, restores land mined for coal, but abandoned without full or proper reclamation (Restoration Section). These programs are a cooperative effort between Indiana and the federal Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).
DOR also administers the state laws (IC 13-4-6) pertaining to the mining of clay, shale and oil shale. These are typically small operations impacting much smaller areas than a coal mine. There are currently four active clay operations in the state covering 190 acres. Each permit is good for one year and is renewable. Post-mining land uses are predominately wildlife habitat and water.
Mine safety is a combined effort of the Indiana Department of Labor Bureau of Mines, and the national office of Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) - Coal Mine Safety and Health housed in the U.S. Department of Labor.
Indiana has a long history of mineral extraction and land restoration. Coal was discovered along the Wabash River in the mid-1700s and mined commercially in the early 1800s. Equipment, science and technology of the time limited excavations to small areas of land. Development of equipment from other industrial ventures such as railroad expansion and the Panama and Suez canals through the late 1800s and very early 1900s drove development of much larger, self-propelled machinery. This application to the coal fields allowed early miners to stay above ground and simply dig down to deeper coal seams, thus the growth of “surface mining.” This was safer than underground mining for workers, and produced more coal since none had to be left in place as roof support. Surface mining was also a quicker, mobile operation affecting larger and larger areas of land surface. In 1941, Indiana became only the second state in the nation to implement land restoration requirements, after Virginia had adopted similar measures in 1939.
Experience, technology and science have grown and changed since the early adoption of reclamation standards. Certain fundamentals remain constant, however, and the DOR remains committed to protecting public health, safety and the environment from adverse impacts of coal mining. Soil must be saved and returned to pre-mining conditions to ensure productivity now and for future generations. Surface and ground water must be tested for pollutants, and controlled through proper drainage to avoid erosion. Wetlands must be protected, wildlife habitat re-established and other land uses provided for future and changing needs of a growing society. Indiana has been recognized nationally for environmental protection and has received numerous awards for its work.
Division staff are split between two offices. Three staff are in Indianapolis and responsible primarily for administrative functions such as budget, payroll and benefits, grants and program reporting. The remainder, approximately 60, are in the Jasonville office. These staff are responsible for the permitting, inspection, construction planning, design and oversight and additional technical aspects of mining and land restoration.
The Division is funded through a combination of resources, none of which are General Fund tax dollars. Currently, funds are generated by various State and federal fees attached to coal production. The annual operating budget has remained constant over the past several years between four and five million dollars ($4,000,000 and $5,000,000). Construction funds for reclamation of abandoned sites has historically averaged between three and four million dollars ($3,000,000 and $4,000,000).
If you have questions about coal mining in Indiana, please feel free to contact one of our offices.
The Indianapolis Office handles administrative duties. This includes grants, financial data and personnel issues.
The Jasonville Office maintains current and historical program files. This includes permit applications, inspection reports, Abandoned Mine Land (AML) construction projects, site files and other program documentation. Most files are public record and available for public review. If you wish to visit this office and review records, be sure to call ahead to arrange an appointment. The File Room is open 8:15 to 4:45 Mon—Fri.
Indiana minerals are used throughout the Nation for a wide variety of uses. State coal is shipped throughout the country for energy production and steel manufacturing; sand and gravel is used in road construction; gypsum is found in wallboard or used as an agricultural fertilizer; and, dimension limestone is can be found in well known buildings as close as the Capitol in Indianapolis, the Empire State building in New York; and, several office buildings scattered throughout Washington, D.C.. Non-coal minerals are not regulated by the Division of Reclamation and there is no single, comprehensive state or federal oversight of these activities in Indiana. Some operations may require certain individual permits from the state, but most jurisdiction for these activities lies with local zoning or planning commissions.