Above: The VR Mine after new reclamation. Below: The VR Mine before new reclamation. Courtesy
CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) recently awarded the 2020 Excellence in Mining Reclamation Award for non-coal to Knife River for its efforts at the VR Mine, a 1,640-acre sand and gravel mine near Glenrock.
WDEQ gives the Excellence in Mining Reclamation Awards to Wyoming coal and noncoal mine operators who demonstrate an achievement in a specific aspect of mine reclamation or for overall performance in meeting reclamation goals.
Matthew Kunze, a WDEQ geology supervisor said, “The VR Mine is honored for its efforts and progress in accomplishing reclamation during the 2018-2019 annual reporting period.”
During that reporting period, Knife River reclaimed nearly 69 acres of land, which is nearly 10 times the amount of newly disturbed land at the mine. The mine also made exceptional changes to its management of reclamation procedures.
Previously, the soil excavated during the mining process – called overburden – was moved far from the mine site, which slowed the reclamation process considerably. New managers at Knife River altered the process and mine progression, so the overburden is now moved directly into the most recent excavation. Then, all that is left is geographic contouring and topography work. This new process reduced costs, and increased speed and efficiency of reclamation at the VR Mine.
Including the 69 acres reclaimed in 2018-2019, The company has completed geomorphic reclamation of 447 acres of previous mine land. The land is now categorized as rangeland and is grazed regularly by wildlife and livestock.