The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has given its 2016 Small Project Award to the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program. The Commission’s AML Program is receiving the award for the exceptional work done at the Halleck Mine approximately five miles north of Bowman.  

The Halleck Mine was an underground mine with a coal seam that was 30-40 feet thick and the top of it was only 10-50 feet below grade. It operated from about 1919 to 1944. Sinkholes have been common in the area and were known to be near roads and a 30-inch diameter high-pressure natural gas pipeline. In 2014 emergency repairs were completed due to several large sinkholes that severed a fiber optic telecommunications cable and were dangerously close to the pipeline. 

This reclamation project involved drilling and grouting to locate and fill underground voids near public roads and near the natural gas pipeline. Extra precautions were taken during the procedure to prevent damaging the pipeline while making certain the voids were filled. 

“Because of the reclamation fee being paid by current mine operations, the PSC is able to repair some of these sites that were abandoned decades ago,” said Commissioner Randy Christmann, who holds the coal mining, reclamation and AML portfolios. “It allows us to protect our infrastructure and our citizens without using taxpayer dollars. This was a particularly challenging project and our team did a great job.” 

The Commission’s AML Program is in place to eliminate dangerous situations that resulted from mining activities which occurred before the 1977 federal reclamation act. The Commission receives funds for the program from a federal reclamation fee that is collected on all mined coal.