Benefits

Having accurate and easy to access online information on current and past mine usage is the goal of Kentucky's Mine Mapping Information System. Benefiting citizens, businesses and local and state governments, this cooperative electronic mine mapping application features multiple layers of useful data to help:

Maintain a Safer Workplace

Improve Economic Development

Protect the Environment

Improve Water Quality and Accessibility

Increase Public Awareness and Involvement

 

Detail of Benefits

Maintain a Safer Workplace

Mine safety is one of the major benefits of the Internet accessible digital mine maps. These maps provide easily accessible reference to past and current mining activities. They provide a tool to determine adjacent mining in the same seam as well as mining in seams above and below the seam where mining is actually taking place.

Serious safety problems may be created by over-mining and undermining as well as mining too close horizontally to a pre-existing mine void. Since all individual paper mine maps existing at the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing (OMSL) have not been completely compiled, it is difficult to ascertain the extent of mining activity in a given area. The digital mine maps are composite mine outlines for both the eastern and western Kentucky coals fields that provide a link to a scanned image of the most current mine map or the actual mine map on file at the OMSL.

Safety is also a key issue with the oil and gas industry. Access to these maps provides a mechanism that may prevent inadvertently drilling a well in the vicinity of an active mine. Documented oil and gas well locations have been added to this application and provide guidance to avoid the dangerous incidence of mining into an existing oil or gas well. If one life is saved as a result of this project, it is worth the time and effort that it has taken to develop it. Other related safety issues that benefit include construction, mine blowout prevention, mine fires, and subsidence control.

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Improve Economic Development

For Kentucky to have an advantage over surrounding states in attracting new businesses and jobs to the commonwealth, it is important that the process for evaluating and purchasing land be as trouble-free as possible. That includes easy-to-access and accurate underground mapping tools. Knowledge of underground disturbances may be a key in selecting sites and estimating development costs. With existing paper maps, it is very difficult for the average person to know how underground mining relates to surface features since these maps seldom show surface topography. The Mine Mapping project provides an easy-to-use, Internet accessible interface allowing the average person to locate the area of their interest and identify what mining has occurred beneath it. Local, state, and federal regulators use the electronic mine maps to monitor business and developmental activities. Residential and commercial builders and developers and mining companies use them in their efforts to minimize environmental damage. In addition, the maps are used for feasibility studies to determine if potential residential, commercial, or industrial projects should even be constructed at specific locations. Coal resources and reserves can be clearly depicted, aiding in long range state-wide economic planning. Land management companies can use them to plan efficient mining practices and commercial usage reclamation.

Transportation systems designers and builders in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet use the electronic mine map information as important tools in potential corridor selection as well as the subsequent alignment valuations. Access to these maps is a valuable tool to aid efficiency within the Cabinet's project development process.

Once the multiple phase project is fully implemented, it will show all of the detailed historic mine maps. Access to this information will potentially reduce the amount of exploratory drilling for construction projects required to identify these underground works.

Users of the system will benefit by being able to view outlines of mine maps of each coal seam in eastern and western Kentucky and associate each to the actual mine map on file at the OMSL or to a scanned image of the map. Research time will be reduced considerably because of the compiled mine outline map. After all the mine maps are scanned and available, most research can be done online instead of at the OMSL office.

Research programs are being proposed to design mining technology to safely and efficiently develop thin coal seams in eastern Kentucky. In order to delineate specific criteria for such systems, information on seam thickness and elevation variation must be assessed from existing mine data. The online Mine Map Information System will greatly increase the efficiency of this task, reducing the costs of conducting the research.

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Protect the Environment

The Mine Mapping application greatly enhances the ability of the Kentucky Division of Water, Watershed Management Branch and their stakeholders to target remediation strategies of acid mine drainage and abandoned mine lands sites. Specifically, when targeting watersheds for remediation, the Division of Water can quickly identify the geographically associated potential sources of metals and pH problems. This greatly reduces the hundreds of hours of state employee time spent going through manual map files and encourages greater stakeholder and citizen involvement through the ease of access to the data.

The total maximum daily load (TMDL) section in the Division of Water can use the information to help delineate abandoned mine lands (AML) associated with both surface and underground operations. This aids in the development of sediment run-off values, particularly the Tug Fork watershed of the Big Sandy River, impacted by the Martin County coal slurry discharge of 2001. Location and area data can be used to further investigate the contribution of AML sites to sediment loading. Mining data can be combined with other data sources to yield the needed information. The data from this project may also help in the development of pH TMDLs from AML sources in the western Kentucky coalfield.

TMDL is a federally mandated requirement in the Clean Water Act. It requires states to develop TMDLs for waters they list as not meeting intended uses, such as swimming or sustaining aquatic life. The TMDL process determines what reductions in pollutants from various sources are necessary to improve water quality so that the intended use can be restored.

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Improve Water Quality and Accessibility

Currently old underground mines are sources of drinking water for some large and small communities in eastern Kentucky. The Mine Mapping Information System benefits ongoing research to identify mines with the necessary characteristics for use as municipal water supplies.

Citizen groups who are conducting water monitoring in mining areas will now be able to do more scientific selection of sampling sites and more scientific analysis of the results, assisting the public and water quality experts to better understand the watersheds in these areas.

These watershed-sampling groups (Watershed Watch and Watershed Action Teams) are generally volunteer groups with budgets that cover only sampling-related costs (such as delivering sampling containers and laboratory expenses). Neither travel expenses, nor time, are available for them to obtain location information. Accessing this information over the Internet to plan a sampling strategy improves their ability to study watersheds and provides education to themselves and their communities.

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Increase Public Awareness and Involvement

Resource estimates are performed periodically by state and federal agencies to assess the extent and character of Kentucky's remaining coal resources. This information is essential for state policy makers and local planners. One aspect of these studies involves the characterization of depleted resources. Historically, this information has been difficult to obtain and the results have been inaccurate. The Mine Mapping system allows up-to-date and accurate assessments of mined out areas, and greatly reduces the effort required to do so.

Volunteer groups including the VISTA volunteers, agency staff, and other stakeholders can quickly and easily use the mine maps along with other available information to determine if a site may be causing water quality impairment. This analysis can be followed up by targeted field studies.

Patrons of the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing paper Mine Map Repository are saving time and money. They are now able to research mined out areas and obtain the maps they need over the Internet, thus saving a trip to Frankfort. Before the availability of online maps, the average customer spent two to three hours in travel time each way from eastern or western Kentucky.

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