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May 16, 2014

Strip mine project eyed in Richland

JOHNSTOWN — Richland Township’s zoning and hearing board is reviewing a Berlin company’s proposal to surface mine 18 acres of rural land south and west of Fulmer Road.

Rampside Collieries hopes to strip mine unrecovered coal from a Berwind Corp.-owned site that has been both surface and deep mined before, according to a proposal submitted to the board.

Surface mining occurred on the site as recently as 2010, but Rampside must acquire a special exception from the township before work can begin on the land, zoning officer Dave Mills said, noting the township has surface mining guidelines that must be met.

Rampside’s project engineer, Altoona-based Minetech Engineers Inc., reported to the commission last month that the project will take place entirely on private land and won’t occur within 100 feet of state or township roads.

If approved, trucks would enter and exit the site through an existing Berwind property haul road that was used for Rampside’s previous surface operations in the same area, company engineers wrote in a three-page response to the commission.

Loaded trucks, which will exit the road and use Fulmer to haul the coal off site, will be covered with tarps, the document says.

Richland’s zoning and hearing board is reviewing the proposal, which also requires a state mining permit.

Through the township’s surface mining guidelines, the zoning board presents findings of fact on the project for the township planning commission’s review.

The planning commission would then be tasked with making recommendations to the zoning and hearing board, which will consider them before making a final decision, Mills said.

David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at


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