E.P. Bender Coal Co. of Carrolltown hopes to begin operations at a Cresson Township surface mine as early as next month.

The project at Lilly Mine 3-A also will include reclamation of waste-coal piles that have existed since the mine was worked by a different company 50 years ago.

The work at the mine, which Bender geologist Jim Walter described as being close to State Correctional Institution-Cresson, was proposed two years ago by Indiana County-based Thomas J. Smith Mining Inc.

But the job was transferred to Bender because that company is much closer to the mine, Walter said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection recently issued an operating permit for the nearly 198-acre site, DEP spokesman Tom Rathbun said.

“They’re basically going to finish a job that was started years ago,” Rathbun said. “They’ll be cleaning up a site at no cost to the taxpayers.”

Coal taken from the strip job will cover Bender’s costs incurred while cleaning up 42.4 acres of abandoned-mine land, Rathbun said.

The state has estimated the reclamation project’s value at $650,000, Rathbun said.

While a handful of new jobs may be created by the project, it also will enable a number of existing Bender workers to stay employed, Walter said.

The project is expected to take five years to complete.

“Bony piles, open high walls, old structures – all of that will be reclaimed,” Walter said.

The company will haul some of the waste coal to one of the area’s three cogeneration plants. Material not suitable for those plants will be reclaimed in an approved manner at the site, Walter said.

Bender’s plans are similar to projects elsewhere, Rathbun said.

“There are a lot of sites around the state which weren’t mined 50 years ago, but with improved technology it now becomes feasible,” he said.

Cresson Township officials in March approved the Bender plan under their land-development ordinance, township Engineer Rich Wray said. Officials still are making arrangements to protect township roads.

While not a part of the DEP permit, Walter said Bender also may take over a proposed deep-mining operation at the Morningstar Mine, which is adjacent to the surface-mine site.

Thomas J. Smith Mining is in the process of seeking to renew the DEP permit for the deep mine, which once was a C.A. Hughes mine.

“(Bender) will be involved if it takes place, but that would not occur until completion of the surface operation,” Walter said.

Trending Video

Recommended for you