HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM, osmre.gov), has approved final bond release for Peabody Energy’s Big Sky Mine Area B. The coal mine was located just outside of Colstrip, Mont. in Rosebud County.
The state will release a $3 million surety bond to Peabody Energy, having determined that all remaining reclamation work in Area B is successfully completed. Performance bonds are held by DEQ to ensure that coal mine permit holders fully reclaim their sites when resource extraction is finished. After a mining company meets its reclamation requirements as required by state rules, the performance bond is released.
Reclamation requirements for the state of Montana include backfilling and grading the land to achieve an approved topography—as well as soiling, seeding, and establishing required vegetation for a stable and diverse landscape—that supports the proposed post-mine land use. The process is extensive and Montana requires a minimum 10-year revegetation period before a reclaimed area qualifies for final bond release.
The Big Sky Mine Area B reclamation has been completed and was compared to similar land in the region to ensure it meets the performance standards for agriculture and wildlife habitat. The reclaimed land has been scrutinized by DEQ and OSM, and it was determined to have achieved final reclamation requirements. The land has already been successfully used for livestock grazing and wildlife habitat for a number of years.
The following short video features DEQ’s coal mine reclamation and is available for media use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSZXlfdKYVY