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Industrial site eyed for former mine in Norton

Staff report • Aug 16, 2018 at 10:00 PM

NORTON — Transforming an old surface mine site sandwiched between U.S. Route 23 and U.S. Route 58-A in Norton into an industrial site will be a task aided by $3.5 million from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSMRE) under an abandoned mine land (AML) pilot program that seeks to link economic development to reclamation of abandoned mine sites.

On Thursday, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy formally presented the Norton Industrial Development Authority a slice of the $10 million the state agency has on hand for such projects, proferred as Virginia’s share in the first round of funding by OSMRE last year. Project proposals are elicited under the economic development/restoration guidelines and reviewed for approval by the federal agency.

The $3.5 million grant will be applied to 200 acres of the Hawthorne Drive site for potential location of three industrial buildings. Phased development would include road access, water and wastewater infrastructure, access to power, natural gas and broadband services, and removal of an unstable highwall in the process.

“This project has great potential for quite the economic boost in the coalfields,” said DMME Deputy Director Butch Lambert. “Removing the highwall left behind from historic mining automaticlly increases the value on this land. Our agency is excited to see what the future may hold once this site is developed.”

Dubbed “Project Intersection” because of its location off U.S. Route 58-A and Hawthorne Drive, the Norton initiative was one of 15 proposals submitted to the DMME. The state agency chose six projects to recommend to the OSMRE for approval, and Project Intersection made the top of the grade.

“The member localities of the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (LPRIFA) have worked tirelessly to foster projects with regional participation and significance,” said LPRIFA Chairman John Kilgore. “Project Intersection is one of these projects that will be a partnership project providing regional benefit for all of Southwest Virginia.”

The state DMME will receive a second round of $10 million for future projects and is now accepting new project proposals through Oct. 31.

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