A CULTURE OF SAFETY
Safety remains a top priority and core cultural value for Wyoming’s coal mining industry. In fact, Wyoming coal mines are recognized as some of the safest mining operations in the nation. Safe mines are productive mines, and at the end of the day our goal is for every employee to arrive home safely.
- All mines employ dedicated safety professionals, and all employees are trained in proper safety practices to foster a safe work environment.
- All new employees attend 40 hours of safety training prior to their first day on the job.
- All employees participate regularly in safety refresher training.
- Every shift starts with walk-around safety inspections.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that working in a Wyoming coal mine is safer than a number of common occupations. On average, a coal miner can expect to work his entire career without a lost-time accident, defined as a non-fatal workplace illness or injury resulting in at least one day away from work to recuperate.
Reclaimed coal mining lands represent sustainable development in action. Reclamation is done contemporaneously in a multi stage process once the recoverable coal is removed. Highly trained specialists employed by the mines manage the reclamation, and state and federal personnel provide oversight to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
Reclamation stages include:
- Backfilling the void with overburden
- Contouring the filled surface
- Replacing topsoil and preparing the surface
- Preparing the seedbed and sowing approved seed mixtures
- Monitoring plant growth and fauna populations.
Approved seed mixtures used in reclamation promote higher vegetative output than what is found on pre-mined land, attracting animals and plants to re-establish and promote a sustainable ecosystem. The success of reclamation is apparent on reclaimed land in the PRB, which now provides crucial winter habitat for elk and other indigenous species. One reclaimed site is part of a conservation easement established through the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Land which houses facilities such as mine shops, coal plants and long-term roads and ponds cannot be reclaimed until long-term use is complete. Year-to-year reclamation focuses on all other areas as demonstrated by comparison of current disturbance and reclamation.
Reclamation goes beyond just restoring contours and reseeding native plant species. Reclamation specialists strive to build sustainable natural ecosystems using innovative methods and new techniques to further enhance reclaimed areas. Some examples include:
- Re-establishment of water features and storage in reclaimed streams, stock ponds and wetlands.
- Replacement of sage grouse breeding grounds.
- Establishment of mosaic patterns in grassland and shrubland reclamation.
- Replacement of rock outcrops and providing prey base habitats for eagles and other predators.
- Reconstruction of prairie dog towns and reclamation of mountain plover habitat.