A gob pile is a pile built of accumulated spoil, the waste rock removed during coal mining. This waste material is typically composed of shale, as well as smaller quantities of carboniferous shale and various other residues. RPM Solutions, a reclamation, ash management and environmental services company, specializes in dealing with gob piles. RPM Solutions uses proprietary equipment technology and refined operating skills to provide an innovative approach to coal yard reclamation and ash pond management.
There are several ways to manage coal refuse, but most often it is put into massive gob piles, resembling hills or mountains. The disposal of coal refuse can contaminate local waterways, soils and air from their toxic components. Heavy metals that exist in refuse can pollute waterways by leaching into the groundwater or flowing directly into water sources. Piles of gob left behind after mining extractions can spontaneously combust or catch fire from lightning strikes and can also leach acid mine water and hazardous substances. They are major sources of land, air and water pollution and represent public health hazards.
One of the major problems facing the electric power generating industry is the ever increasing demand for energy coupled with a real and vociferous public demand for reduced pollution levels. A partial solution to the dilemma could lie in the redemption of waste gob piles which can result in the production of much needed energy while reducing the ecologic and aesthetic problems these banks currently represent. A waste gob pile is heterogeneous rather than homogeneous in composition and variation will occur, both horizontally and vertically. Gob piles generally consist of coal, shale, bone coal, sulfates and carbonates.
Gob has been an ongoing problem for coal companies throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia. The required government permits can be difficult for coal companies to obtain. What to do with a mountain of junk coal has been a topic of debate for years, due to environmental concerns. RPM Solutions recovers waste coal from gob piles and uses the proceeds to offset the cost of reclamation.
Because the separation process is far from perfect, coal itself is generally a major constituent of gob piles. Gob piles have too often become permanent fixtures on the landscape and are responsible for environmental degradation, as well as being hazards and eyesores. They generally don’t support the growth of much vegetation and are characterized by their steep, eroded, unstable dark gray banks. Many gob piles can be commercially reprocessed to harvest the remaining coal from other waste materials, especially those having high coal (energy) content.
Besides the environmental degradation, gob piles sink property values and contribute to economic decline. Energy companies can reclaim abandoned gob piles because the waste coal provides cheap fuel. Power companies are able to burn the coal that was left behind in gob piles using a technology called Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) combustion. If it is cost-prohibitive to burn a gob pile in a CFB power plant, the pile may have to be spread out and mixed with soil and alkaline material to allow revegetation of the area.
For gob piles having little commercial value, other reclamation methods may have to be employed. One method is to regrade the pile to eliminate steep slopes, then use various water management practices to keep water from infiltrating the pile and to cap the pile with soils and other amendments to promote the growth of vegetation.
RPM Solutions provides a range of technical services to help optimize efficiency and improve bottom line performance. For more information about putting the services of RPM Solutions to work regarding gob piles, contact us at www.RPMSolve.com