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Surface mining simulator for application in steep slope topography



A surface mining simulator has been developed for application in steep slope topography. The simulator is designed to model haulback mining, as commonly practiced in Appalachian areas, and is applicable to contour mining and mountain top removal mining. Its primary use will be comparison of alternative overburden handling plans. Major inputs include pre-mining topography as a sequence of mining block and lift volumes, and post-mining topography as a series of spoil disposal volumes spatially defined in reference to the mining blocks and lifts. Characteristics of the mining firm are input as an equipment suite, labor force size and wages, and overhead costs. The simulator maintains volume accounts for the mining blocks and lifts and for the disposal areas, and time of operation accounts for the equipment as it strips and fills according to the user-input mining plan. Output includes volumes moved from each block to each disposal area, and per block and overall mining costs, on gross, per cubic yard, and per ton of coal bases. 3 references, 3 figures.
... Machinery operation and overburden movement data from the Amos Ridge site from January 1984 through August 1985 formed the basis of our study of mining costs (18,20). We collected additional data from other steep-slope contour mining sites where conventional AOC procedures were used and developed data processing and cost modeling software for application to the Amos Ridge data (17,19). We used this system to model the economics of landform construction, comparing the cost of mining using the landscape alteration techniques to our estimate of what the cost of mining would have been under conventional AOC practices (14). ...
... COSTSUM is a set of seven programs designed to analyze data from active surface mining sites to determine spoil handling and reclamation costs (Zipper and Daniels, 1986). OPSIM is a surface mining simulator designed to estimate differences in spoil handling costs among reclamation and post-mining landform alternatives (Zipper et al., 1985a). An extensively modified version of OPSIM (called TOPSIM) prepared specifically for use during this study was used to estimate mining costs (Table 1). ...
Coal surface mining has had profound effects on the steeply sloping central Appalachian (U.S.A.) landscape since the early 1950s. The “shoot-and-shove” mining practices of past years resulted in a number of environmental problems. A federal law, The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), was passed to rectify these problems. A major provision of SMCRA is its requirement that mined lands be returned to “approximate original contour” (AOC). SMCRA has brought vast improvements in reclamation practice to central Appalachia. However, the return of surface mined lands to AOC remains highly controversial, as many criticize the environmental, economic, and land-use effects of AOC.An alternative to conventional contour surface mining (AOC) was investigated at an experimental mining site in Wise County, Virginia. The terrain at this site is the steeply sloping “points and hollows” topography commonly found throughout the central Appalachian coalfields, and the equipment utilized was typical of haul-back mining operations throughout the region. This experimental alternative allowed all highwalls to be covered and all SMCRA performance standards (except AOC) to be met. A detailed investigation of the cost of mining and reclamation indicates that the experimental reclamation method was less costly than conventional AOC reclamation at this site. Additional favorable consequences result from implementation of the alternative method, including an improvement of the post-mining land-use potential and less-injurious environmental effects. Although AOC represents a vast improvement over the reclamation methods which preceded SMCRA, additional improvements are possible; opportunities to improve the economic and environmental consequences of coal surface mining in central Appalachia are not being realized under the prevailing AOC reclamation regime.
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