Surface Mining & Reclamation

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Surface Mining & Reclamation ANNOUNCEMENTS

RRC Gives Coal Mining Reclamation Award To Dos Republicas

For Work At Eagle Pass Mine

April 19, 2021

AUSTIN – A coal mining operation near the Texas-Mexico border was commended for its environmental restoration after shutting down operations. RRC’s commissioners on Tuesday recognized Dos Republicas Resource Co. with the agency’s 2021 Texas Coal Mining Reclamation Award.

Dos Republicas’ 6,348-acre Eagle Pass Mine, which has held a Railroad Commission permit since 2000, ceased mining operations last year and is now working toward full reclamation. The Eagle Pass Mine is about five miles northeast of Eagle Pass in Maverick County near the border with Mexico. Sub-bituminous coal from the Olmos Formation had been harvested from the surface mine, supplying 2-3 million metric tons of coal per year to a Mexican federal electricity commission power plant.

RRC’s award recognizes Dos Republicas’ reclamation of the Dahlstrom pit, which was graded and merged with the surrounding area in 2018 and 2019. Layers of subsoil and topsoil were placed on top and planted with a mix of native grasses, which provide cover and forage for livestock and wildlife and will hold the newly placed topsoil in place while brush species take time to establish.

 mix of native grasses in the Dahlstrom pit

“Dos Republicas’ efforts at the Dahlstrom pit exemplifies environmental stewardship,” said RRC Director of Surface Mining and Reclamation Division Brent Elliott, Ph.D. “It exceeds RRC standards, which are to return lands to a condition as good or better than before mining started.”

The area has been mined for coal since around 1850 and once provided coal to power steamboats that moved up and down the Rio Grande and trains that helped to grow Texas and facilitate trade with Mexico.

The Texas Coal Mining Reclamation Award is given every year to an exceptional mine operator for outstanding reclamation and community support. See previous year awards here.

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What we do

One of the state's most abundant energy resources is a form of soft coal called lignite. Many lignite deposits lie close to the surface, easily reached with modern mining technology. Texas is the largest consumer of coal in the United States and in 2015 was the seventh largest coal-producing state.In 1975, the Texas Legislature gave the Railroad Commission jurisdiction to regulate surface mining for coal and uranium. Companies mining coal/lignite in Texas must have a Commission permit and post a bond for each site they operate in the state. The goal of the coal mining regulations is that the mined land is returned to a condition that is as good as, or better than, it was before mining. Division field personnel make, at a minimum, monthly visits to mine sites, checking for compliance with coal mining regulations.

No surface mining for uranium is currently conducted but uranium exploration continues to be conducted for in situ uranium mining operations and is administered by the Surface Mining and Reclamation Division. (In situ uranium mining is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). Active uranium exploration sites are inspected monthly.

The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division also administers a program to reclaim dangerous or environmentally harmful abandoned mine sites that were mined prior to the implementation of the federal surface mining law in 1975 to ensure the safety of the public and protect the environment by eliminating these hazardous abandoned mines throughout the state.

The Surface Mining & Reclamation Division oversees coal exploration, mining and reclamation activities in Texas. In our regulatory role we ensure operators follow Commission rules and regulations established to protect public health and safety, the environment and natural resources.