The Aug. 1 article regarding the mine in Rosa (Mining suspended at Rosa Mine: MCoal future plans uncertain) caught my attention. Since MCoal began their operation here in Blount County, I have often glanced at their entrance gates in passing and wondered what exactly it was that they were doing. Because of my limited knowledge of the coal mining industry and my concern for Blount County’s environment, I was always a bit uneasy regarding MCoal’s presence.
My views changed this past spring when I was given a tour of the MCoal facility. It was very interesting to watch their drilling equipment in action. The rig is actually a relatively small unit that creeps along the walls of rock boring horizontal holes to retrieve coal from an exposed seam. These holes extend very deep into the rock, but they appeared to be only about 8 or 10 inches in diameter.
By far, the part of the tour that impressed me the most was the extensive land reclamation work that was being done. I was able to see all phases of the work from areas that were just being prepared for the new mining effort all the way through to areas where reclamation was complete. MCoal started with scarred wasteland that was abandoned by the previous mining operation decades earlier. What they leave behind has been smoothed and regraded to improve drainage and to give a more natural appearance. They then plant a mixture of vegetation, and the end result is beautiful.
I do hope that MCoal is able to work out their financial difficulties so that they can finish their work in Rosa. They are leaving Blount County better than they found it, and they are employing Blount County workers while doing it.