Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 7. Requirements Applicable to Underground Coal Mines; Mine Construction

§ 45.2-708. Mining in proximity to an abandoned area.

A. The mine foreman shall ensure that boreholes are drilled in each advancing working place that is (i) within 50 feet of an abandoned area in the mine as shown by a survey made and certified by a registered engineer or surveyor, (ii) within 200 feet of an abandoned area in the mine that has 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 pursuant to § 45.2-826. Each borehole shall be at least 20 feet in depth, shall always be maintained not less than 10 feet in advance of the face, and shall be not more than eight feet from an adjacent borehole unless approved by the Chief. One borehole shall also be drilled for each cut on any side of the active workings that is being driven toward and in proximity to an abandoned mine or part of a mine that might contain explosive or hazardous gas or that is filled with water.

B. Sufficient holes shall be drilled through to accurately determine whether hazardous quantities of methane, carbon dioxide, or other gases or water are present in an 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 a borehole drilled in accordance with subsection A until a plan has been submitted and approved by the Chief. The plan shall include at a minimum (i) procedures for testing the atmosphere at the back of any borehole drilled into the abandoned area; (ii) the method of ventilation, the ventilation controls, and the air quantities and velocities in the affected working section and working place; (iii) procedures for penetrating an abandoned area 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) procedures and precautions to be followed during a penetration 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, agent of such operator, mine foreman, or miner engaged in drilling or mining into an inaccessible abandoned area 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 from the Chief for the submitted plan 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 from an overlying or underlying mine, or prior to drilling into any portion of the same active mine, the operator shall submit a plan to the Chief addressing (i) the purpose of the hole, (ii) information about any abandoned mine that the hole might penetrate, (iii) procedures for withdrawing or limiting the number of miners from the mine or affected area during penetration, (iv) casing details and procedures for preventing 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.

G. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a gas well, coalbed methane well, or vertical ventilation hole.

Code 1950, § 45-38; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-93; 1979, c. 56; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.122; 1996, c. 774; 2005, c. 3; 2011, cc. 826, 862; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.