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National Mine Land Reclamation Center

History and Impact

In 1988 Congress recognized the need for an organization to specifically address the outstanding reclamation problems and authorized formation of the National Mine Land Reclamation Center (NMLRC). The following problems were identified as they relate to active and abandoned coal mines:

  • Acid Mine Drainage
  • Prime Farmland Restoration
  • Subsidence Control
  • Groundwater Degradation

Many of the original problems have been resolved. However, acid drainage from coal mines and, increasingly, metal mines remains the most significant environmental effect of mining.

The NMLRC occupies a unique niche in the University structure. The Center functions as a program development agency, an administrative unit and a research unit. The Center is funded through grants and contracts with private, state and federal agencies. Typically, the NMLRC will coordinate with faculty members and/or utilize its own technical staff to ensure project success. The Center concentrates on project progress and completion, which bridges the traditional academic method of project conduct and the results oriented world of the private and public sectors.

The NMLRC has become an internationally-recognized leader in the area of acid mine drainage (AMD). Among technologies initiated, refined or demonstrated by the NMLRC, the following are now in practice within the industry, state and federal agencies:

  • Alkaline amendment
  • Quantitative AMD prediction method
  • Pneumatic and slurry placement of alkaline coal ash in underground mines
  • Selective spoil handling
  • Remining
  • Passive AMD treatment systems for watershed restoration
  • Use of coal ash and steel slag barriers

In addition, the NMLRC has helped organize and provide technical support for four major national initiatives:

  • Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative
  • Acid Drainage Technology Initiative
  • Combustion Byproducts Recycling Consortium
  • Monongahela Basin Mine Pool Project



  • WV 338 – Herods Run WV 327 – West Run Passive Treatment Airport Portal Phase II 
  • WV 346 – Swamp Run Passive Treatment 2


  • WV 126 – West Virginia Stormwater Program Assessment 
  • WV 127 – Buckhannon River Watershed-Based Plan 
  • WV 140 – Smooth Rock Lick of the Upper Buckhannon River Passive AMD Treatment Project 
  • WV 206 a&b – Design and Installation of Passive AMD Treatment Systems in Tributaries of the Lower Cheat River Watershed 
  • WV 217 – Long Branch Passive AMD Treatment Project 
  • WV 218, WV 221, WV 221s, WV 137, WV 139 – Lambert Run Restoration Project 
  • WV 219 – Coal Slurry Impoundment Monitoring 
  • WV 229 – Passive Treatment Installation – Dream Mountain – Muddy Creek 
  • WV 231 – Implementation of the Watershed Based Plan for AMD Remediation in the Cheat River Watershed 
  • WV 232 – Development and Demonstration of a Modeling Framework for Assessing the Efficacy of Using Mine Water for Thermoelectric Power Generation 
  • WV 233 – Lower Cheat Watershed Passive Treatment Project 
  • WV 237 – Development and Implementation of a Water Quality Bank Trade Program for the Potomac River Watershed, 
  • WV WV 238 – IN-situ Mitigation of Iron in a Net-alkaline Environment 
  • WV 244 – Technical Support for Implementing the West Virginia AML Program 
  • WV 246 – West Run Watershed Based Plan 
  • WV 310 – Swamp Run Passive Treatment Installation 1 
  • WV 350 – Lambert Run Treatment System Upgrade Site 8


Prediction of Water Quality at Surface Coal Mines Book Cover
"Acid Base Accounting (ABA) is an important method for predicting postmining and reclamation water quality and evaluating the potential for production of acid mine drainage. The method, developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s and continuously refined since (Perry, 1998), assesses the potential for the production of acidic drainage at a mine site by balancing the acid-producing and the acid-neutralizing potential of materials at a site to predict the net water quality that can be expected. (Skousen et al., 2002)." (

The NMLRC has been studying the effectiveness of acid base accounting for predicting postmining and reclamation water quality (Skousen et al., 2002). Overburden analyses, permit maps, and predictions of postmining and reclamation water quality data were collected from regulatory agency permit files from several states in the Appalachian coal region. Data collected from these files was used to calculate mass-weighted acid base accounting for each site. Neutralization potential (NP), maximum potential acidity (MPA) and NP/MPA ratio from each ABA were compared to alkalinity levels in postmining and reclamation water quality data. The results of the ABA analyses were found to be correct in 82% of the cases using the NP/MPA parameter; this indicates that ABA is a good way to predict postmining and reclamation water quality at a mine site (Skousen et al., 2002). More work is planned or is underway to refine this useful analytical tool. (

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A handbook of Technologies for the Avoidance and Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage Book Cover

The Mine Drainage Technology Initiative (MDTI)  Coal Mining Sector’s Avoidance/Remediation Working Group prepared this user oriented handbook on AMD Remediation Methods for coal mining in the Appalachian region that includes case studies. It is a compilation of previously conducted AMD remediation technology experiments and technology , including those that did not succeed. The anticipated outcome will be a higher success rate in remediating existing sources of AMD and more cost effective stream cleanup. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) and the National Mining Association provided funding for these publications, which were published by the NMLRC. 

Download PDF version of this book

    Printed copies of both reports are available. There is a $20.00 fee for each hard copy book requested, in addition to a postage fee. To obtain a printed copy, contact Terry Polce.



Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director
West Virginia Water Research Institute
West Virginia University
(304) 293-6958

Melissa O’Neal, Program Manager
West Virginia Water Research Institute
West Virginia University
(304) 293-7006

Administrative Staff

Terry Polce, Program Assistant II
(304) 293-7041