Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.1. Mines and Mining
Chapter 14.3. Requirements Applicable to Underground Coal Mines

Article 3. Proximity of Mining to Gas and Oil Wells, and Abandoned Areas.

§ 45.1-161.121. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) Mining in proximity to gas and oil wells.

A. Except as provided in subsection D, an operator who plans to remove coal, drive any passage or entry, or extend any workings in any mine, within 500 feet of any gas or oil well already drilled into the projected mine workings or in the process of being drilled into the projected mine workings shall file with the Chief a notice that mining is taking place or will take place. The notice shall include a copy of parts of the maps and plans required under § 45.1-161.64 which show the mine workings and projected mine workings which are within 500 feet of the well. The operator shall simultaneously mail copies of such notice, maps and plans by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the well operator and the Gas and Oil Inspector. Each notice shall contain a certification made by the operator that he has complied with the provisions of this subsection.

B. Subsequent to the filing of the notice required by subsection A, the operator may proceed with mining operations in accordance with the maps and plans; however, without the prior approval of the Chief, he shall not remove any coal, drive any entry, or extend any workings in any mine closer than 200 feet to any gas or oil well already drilled into the projected mine workings or in the process of being drilled into the projected mine workings.

C. The Chief shall promulgate regulations which prescribe the procedure to be followed by mine operators in petitioning the Chief for approval to conduct such activities within 200 feet of a gas or oil well or a vertical ventilation hole drilled or in the process of being drilled into the projected mine workings. Each operator who files such a petition shall mail copies of the petition, maps and plans by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the well operator and the Gas and Oil Inspector no later than the day of filing. The Gas and Oil Inspector and the operator of the gas or oil well or vertical ventilation hole shall have standing to object to any petition filed under this section. Such objections shall be filed within ten days following the date such petition is filed.

D. Procedures for safely mining in proximity to or through coalbed methane wells or vertical ventilation holes developed for methane drainage in a mine shall be addressed in the bleeder system plan for that mine required by § 45.1-161.220.

1990, c. 92, § 45.1-92.1; 1994, c. 28; 1999, c. 256.

§ 45.1-161.122. (Repealed effective October 1, 2021) 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.