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Township mine reclamation project in Ligonier receives honor for a job well done

Coal Loader Inc. officials are among those recognized for abandoned mile reclamation projects. From left are John Pippy, PA Coal Alliance CEO; Chris Abruzzo, acting DEP secretary ; Don Lupyan vice president of Coal Loaders Inc., Unionvale Coal; and Lou Lazarro, deputy chief of staff from the 18th Congressional District office, who presented each company with a citation award.

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By Nicole Chynoweth
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

At Coal Loaders Inc., surpassing coal industry standards is a goal, according to Vice President Don Lupyan.

“We want to show people mining is not what it used to be,” Lupyan said.

This year, the company, which does work in Ligonier and surrounding areas, received recognition for one of its reclamation projects.

On Aug. 21 at the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance annual banquet at Seven Springs, Coal Loaders Inc. accepted an award for its recently completed abandoned mine reclamation project at the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center. “We went above and beyond what we typically need to do,” Lupyan said.

Coal Loaders Inc. reclaimed between 75 and 80 acres, extracting coal, placing topsoil and planting vegetation to rebuild the land to its original contour and enhance the wildlife habitat.

“We planted 12,500 trees, which is more than we usually plant,” Lupyan said.

Coal Loaders didn't choose its typical pine and locust varieties. Lupyan said they chose better species — such as red oak, white oak and black cherry — to attract wildlife. The company planted vegetation that animals such as deer and turkeys will eat, like clover, turnips and chicory.

Ligonier Camp and Conference Center staff documented the process in photos and video, which will be used in educational presentations for campers, Lupyan said. The images show the steps Coal Loaders Inc. took to transform the land, full of pit holes and sinkholes, back to its original contour.

At the alliance banquet, seven companies were honored for “returning coal mining sites to environmentally sound condition and production uses,” said Josie Gaskey, alliance director of regulatory and technical affairs.

Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations evaluated each company's nominated projects, based on pre-mining condition, reclamation quality, landowner satisfaction and compliance with environmental regulations, Gaskey said.

Coal Loaders Inc., who was nominated by consulting company Earthtech Inc., stood out in its evaluation due to the number of trees planted, as well as how the company worked with the community, Gaskey said.

According to Gaskey, the awards illustrate the difference between mining of decades ago versus today.

“These companies aren't the companies of the past,” Gaskey said. “The mining industry has changed, and it's important to recognize the good work they do and their strong environment stewardship.”

Other honorees were Amerikohl Mining Inc. of Butler, Black Cat Coal LLC of Curwensville, Croner Inc. and PBS Coals Inc. of Friedens, Shannopin Materials LLC of Morgantown, W.Va., and Waroquier Coal Co. of Clearfield.

Coal Loaders' engineering manager Mark Klonicke said its common for coal companies to share progressive ideas for each other's projects.

“That's the whole idea of PCA,” he said. “It's a good organization to belong to. It helps us all.”

Klonicke said one of Coal Loaders' projects in the spring will aim to restore the land and improve wildlife habitat on a property near Tosh Road. Trees will also be planted in that area, which is designated as forest land, according to Klonicke.

Klonicke said many Coal Loaders employees live, hunt and fish in Ligonier.

“We want to see improvements to the area that we do business in and live in,” Klonicke said. “We have an interest in the environment.”

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or

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