A shared history of searching for environmentally responsible methods of coal mine reclamation has led to a new cooperative agreement between South Korea and West Virginia researchers.

Curt M. Peterson, president of WVU Research Corporation, and Jin-soo Lee, president of the Mine Reclamation Corporation of Korea (MIRECO), signed a formal agreement of cooperation on Monday (April 26) – the result of more than seven years of work between researchers from South Korea and the U.S. They hope to assist each other in addressing common problems associated with mining.

Jeff Skousen, Ph.D., a research professor who specializes in land reclamation, soil and water conservation and watershed restoration in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, began working with reclamation scientists from South Korea in 2003 when Jae Yang, Ph.D., of the National University of Korea, visited Morgantown to learn more about West Virginia’s experiences in dealing with mining and mine reclamation activity.

“Dr. Yang was interested in learning about passive treatment systems to treat acid mine drainage,” Skousen said. “We spent days together looking at all the different types of systems that have been developed and constructed around Monongalia County. “

Yang also worked with Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., director of WVU’s West Virginia Water Research Institute, who attended the signing ceremony Monday.

Skousen said Yang ended up taking home new knowledge about reclamation procedures that he implemented at more than 30 mine sites in South Korea. Skousen has since made numerous trips to South Korea to teach workshops on mining and reclamation and make a presentation at the 2007 and 2009 International Symposiums on Mine Reclamation.

“South Korea and West Virginia, specifically Appalachia, have many common problems in mine reclamation,” Skousen said. “Both countries must reclaim subsidence holes that occur because of caving of abandoned underground mines, treat contaminated water, manage coal waste piles for revegetation and stabilization, remediate soils that are contaminated by coal and metal mines and revegetate these areas to grass and trees. Sharing our experiences and successes can advance that work and produce positive results for sites in both of our countries.”