Mine recognized for environmental excellence

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, July 16, 2022

Kyanite Mining Corp. received top recognition for its environmental excellence in 2021.

Kyanite Mining Corp. is the oldest, operating since the 1920s, plus the biggest kyanite mine in the world and the only one in North America. According to John Snoddy, environmental and safety director at Kyanite Mining, kyanite is resistant to intense heat making it useful in industrial furnaces or molds used for casting molten metal.

“We mine the industrial mineral kyanite from our two quarries here in Buckingham County,” Snoddy said. “Our mineral deposit, or ore body, contains approximately 25% kyanite. After our refining process, we provide a product containing 90% kyanite to industrial consumers all around the globe.”

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Kyanite Mining Corp. was named overall winner and best quarry by the Virginia Department of Energy. According to the information submitted by Damien Fehrer, mine inspector with the Virginia Department of Energy, the company has put many practices in place to reduce its environmental impact.

Fehrer recorded the sediment control dams around the perimeter that evolve into drainage benches, long strips of narrow land with steeper slopes around it that bring runoff to sediment basins. These dams not only capture the runoff, but prevent the loss of eroded materials.

During expansions in the 2010s, Fehrer reports that the Kyanite Mining Corp. amended the reclaimed areas with a healthy vegetation cover with Class A wood ash from a local paper mill.

In 2011, Fehrer reports that the Kyanite Mining Corp. successfully implemented an 80-foot tall long slope that was stable and had no excessive erosion. This allowed for the company to extend across the western slope of the East Ridge Hollow Fill in 2015. These long slopes aid in the upkeep of the fill by aiding in the annual lime application, eliminating differential settling and water retention in drainage benches, increasing mower stability, reducing mower scalp on the underlying vegetation and minimizing acid seeps.

“The validating thing about this is that we can’t nominate ourselves, even as proud as we are for what we do every day,” Snoddy said. “Through (Feher’s) endorsement, we got the award. It validates our work as the regulator is proud enough to nominate us for this state-wide award.”