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Russell County coal mining site gets $3M grant for development

Staff report • Aug 21, 2018 at 3:15 PM

LEBANON — An abandoned coal mining site in Russell County is the latest Southwest Virginia project chosen to receive a federal grant for economic development reclamation.

Last week, state and federal officials broke ground on reclamation projects under the special program in Norton and Scott County. On Tuesday, a $3.2 million project was unveiled in Russell County to provide a 67-acre industrial site that features an existing rail line and other infrastructure already in place to accommodate business locations or expansions at the site.

The grant will also enable the removal of 504,000 cubic yards of gob — rocky material and “waste” coal produced during pre-1977 mining procedures — that covers 32 acres of the site. Cleaning up the gob will be beneficial for the Clinch River watershed, said Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy Deputy Director Butch Lambert.

“The environmental impact on this project will be outstanding,” he said. “Removing the gob will continue the improvements we are seeing in nearby Dumps Creek. We are confident this project will also bring outstanding economic impacts once work is complete.”

Russell County Industrial Development Authority Chairman Ernie McFaddin said the location “is a highly competitive and one-of-a-kind site for development in our state. Project Reclaim promises to be ready for business rather quickly, and we hope to see positive impacts just as fast.”

Last year, the DMME received an initial $10 million from federal coffers to fund a pilot program championed by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, to reclaim old mine sites with an economic development goal in mind. The DMME received a second installment of $10 million funding this year and is accepting project proposals for the next round.

“Today’s announcement highlights how reclaiming abandoned mine land can provide a boost to our economy,” Griffith said. “Over $3 million will be provided to ready a site for industrial use adjacent to additional sites being prepared for industrial use. The project will create jobs and lead to new economic activity in Russell County. I am glad to see the funding I fought for in the House of Representatives go to this worthy project.”

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