§ 45.1-161.122

Mining in proximity to abandoned areas

A. The mine foreman shall ensure that boreholes are drilled in each advancing working place that is (i) within 50 feet of abandoned areas in the mine as shown by surveys made and certified by a registered engineer or surveyor, (ii) within 200 feet of abandoned areas in the mine which have not been certified as surveyed or, (iii) within 200 feet of any mine workings of an adjacent mine located in the same coal bed unless the adjacent area of the mine has been pre-shift examined. The boreholes shall be at least 20 feet in depth and always maintained not less than 10 feet in advance of the face, and not more than eight feet apart unless approved by the Chief. One borehole shall also be drilled for each cut on sides of the active workings that are being driven toward, and in proximity to, an abandoned mine or part of a mine which may contain flammable gas or which is filled with water.

B. Sufficient holes shall be drilled through to accurately determine whether hazardous quantities of methane, carbon dioxide and other gases or water are present in the abandoned area. Materials shall be available to plug such holes to prevent an inundation of hazardous quantities of gases or water if detected.

C. Mining shall not advance into any abandoned area penetrated by boreholes drilled in accordance with subsection A until a plan has been submitted and approved by the Chief. The plan will include at a minimum: (i) procedures for testing the atmosphere at the back of boreholes drilled into the abandoned area; (ii) the method of ventilation, ventilation controls, and the air quantities and velocities in the affected working section and working place; (iii) procedures for mining-through when hazardous quantities of methane, carbon dioxide, or other hazardous gases cannot be removed; (iv) dewatering procedures to be used if a penetrated area contains hazardous water accumulation; and (v) the procedures and precautions to be followed during mining-through operation. A copy of the plan shall be made available near the site of the penetration operation and the operator shall review the plan with all miners involved in the operation. Failure to comply with the approved plan shall constitute a violation of this section.

D. Any operator, his agent, mine foreman or miner engaged in drilling or mining into inaccessible abandoned areas shall have upon his person a self-contained self-rescuer.

E. Whenever a mine or section of a mine advances under any body of water that is sufficiently large or in close proximity as to constitute a hazard to miners, the operator shall submit to the Chief a plan meeting the requirements of 30 C.F.R. § 75.1716. The operator shall obtain approval for the submitted plan from the Chief prior to advancing the mine or any section of the mine under the body of water.

F. Prior to penetrating any portion of an active mine with a borehole, ventilation hole, or other hole drilled from the surface or overlying or underlying mines or drilling from the active mine, the operator shall submit a plan to the Chief addressing: (i) the purpose of the hole, (ii) information about abandoned mines that the hole may penetrate, (iii) procedures for withdrawal or limiting the number of miners from the mine or affected area during penetration, (iv) casing details and procedures to prevent water inflow and air transfer from the hole into the active mine, (v) procedures for grouting or sealing the hole when it is no longer used, and (vi) such other information as the Chief may require. The drilling of such hole shall not begin until the plan is approved by the Chief. The provisions of this section shall not apply to gas wells, coalbed methane wells, or vertical ventilation holes.


Code 1950, § 45-38; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-93; 1979, c. 56; 1994, c. 28; 1996, c. 774; 2005, c. 3; 2011, cc. 826, 862.


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