Economic monitoring of a contour surface mine in steep slope Appalachian topography
Accurate estimates of the costs of various surface mining unit operations in steep Appalachian topography are seldom encountered, but are essential to assessment of the feasibility of improving mined land reclamation via Controlled Overburden Placement (COP) procedures. The purposes and methods of monitoring economic costs and overburden movement at a steeply sloping Appalachian contour surface mine in Wise County, Virginia, are discussed. The monitoring program consists of three phases: daily records of machinery operation, monthly site visits to record mining progress, and studies of unit operations at the Amos Ridge site and at other sites in the area. The monitoring program is designed to allow precise estimates to be made of the machine hours required to move and place defined amounts of overburden under specified conditions. Limitations to the accuracy of such estimates are detailed. Accurate economic information on various mining procedures will facilitate the evaluation of tradeoffs between costs and environmental effects, as is necessary to make effective public policy decisions which affect mine reclamation practice.