The Kentucky Mine Mapping Information System received the Best of Kentucky technology award in the Best Online Services category at the Kentucky Digital Government Summit. The conference brings government information technology leaders together to share innovations and accomplishments.
Development of the information system began in May 2004 with a $1 million grant from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and continues with support from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining. The Internet site provides online digitized and georeferenced maps showing the location and extent of underground mines in Kentucky. The Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing has confirmed the presence of more than 30,000 abandoned mines in Kentucky and its collection of over 165,000 individual mine documents is the largest in the world.
Rising coal prices have translated into increased mining activity, often in areas adjacent to abandoned mines. "These abandoned mines present the dangers of flooding, explosive gas and roof instability to active mining operations, endangering the safety of the 16,000 coal miners who work in Kentucky's mines," said Susan Bush, commissioner of the state Department for Natural Resources.
Underground mining has occurred in Kentucky for well over 100 years. Many of these early abandoned mines present a danger to the public and the environment in terms of subsidence, blowouts, and other hazards. The Kentucky Mine Mapping Information System is serving a vital role in the areas of miner and public safety as well as environmental protection. The demand for this type of information is reflected in the fact that the Internet site experiences an average of 600,000 hits monthly.
The goal of the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources is to eventually digitize the entire map collection to ensure that every underground mine in Kentucky is online and free to the public. According to Commissioner Bush, "The mapping system has been successful and played an important role in locating old abandoned mines and avoiding the hazards associated with encountering them."