Railroad Commission Closes Out 1st Mining Permit Issued by the Agency

Commissioners Approve final reclamation work on Alcoa Mine Acreage

August 21, 2018

AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission today closed out its first-ever surface mining permit issued in 1976. The permit, number 001 was issued to Alcoa USA Corp for the Sandow Mine. Commissioners unanimously approved the release of Alcoa USA Corp.’s surface mining bonds after the company met its final reclamation obligations on more than 4,800 acres at the Sandow Mine in Milam and Lee counties.

"Today’s release of the Sandow Mine permit is the culmination of decades of hard work and diligence by hundreds of people at the Railroad Commission to protect our environment while making sure we maximize the state’s natural resources,” said Denny Kingsley, RRC Surface Mining Director. “We release the site knowing it is in great shape for its next chapter in the story of Texas.”

RRC reclamation regulations ensure that mined land is returned to a condition that is as good as, or better than, it was before mining. Demonstrating the success of state environmental protection rules, the former mine is part of the Sandow Lakes Ranch. 

During the life of the permit, Commission staff conducted more than an estimated 1,000 inspections at the mine and processed almost 900 permitted actions for this permit. 

Approximately 200 million tons of lignite have been produced from the Sandow Mine, since the Commission approved of the mine’s permit more than 40 years ago. At its most active period, the RRC’s Sandow mine permit encompassed almost 18,000 acres. Mining began at the Sandow Mine in the 1950s before mining regulations were in place with lignite coal used to generate electricity to power Alcoa’s aluminum smelter operations in Rockdale.  

To view historical photos of the Sandow Mine, click here

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit https://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.