David Longfellow goes over Oxford Mining planned project during Tuesday’s meeting

Athens County Commissioners Approve Public Road Consent for Mining Operation

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ATHENS, OH — The Athens County Board of County Commissioners has approved an agreement with a mining company regarding mining through or within 100 feet of Johnson Run Road.

Commissioners Tuesday morning signed off on a Public Road Consent with Oxford Mining Company, LLC “beginning at a point at the junction of Johnson Run Road and Oakdale Road and then proceeding in a northwesterly direction along Johnson Run Road for a distance of 7100 feet more or less and ending at the junction of Walnut Grove Road.”

David Longfellow with Buckeye Mineral Services, a consulting firm assisting Oxford Mining on the project, laid out the plans for road use, as well as for the overall mining project on the approximately 300 acres the company owns mineral rights to.

He also explained prior concerns raised to the commissioners by previous landowners about local road access were resolved.

“What they’re going to do is keep the road open to local traffic, but close the through traffic,” Commission President Lenny Eliason said.

A map of the proposed project area included in the Public Road Consent agreement
A map of the proposed project area included in the Public Road Consent agreement

To restrict traffic during mining, concrete barriers will be placed parallel to Johnson Run Road to block off any open pit or highwall, according to the consent agreement. Also, at the start of mining, a bond will be posted with Athens County for the portions of the road “where conventional augering or highwall mining is to occur under the road.”

The county will receive some benefits from the project.

Oxford will allow access to sandstone located during mining which will then be processed for use by the county’s engineer. This will provide some cost savings on projects where the county currently has to purchase and transport sandstone from Jackson County.

The infrastructure along the road will improve due to necessity as the company needs a new bridge on Johnson Run to support the weight of equipment.

“For them to haul their coal out, they’re going to improve the bridge so it no longer has a weight limit,” Eliason said.

Environmental concerns raised by commissioners regarding the project were met with a pledge from Longfellow on behalf of Oxford that streams will be avoided, the roughly 57.2 acres of land which is strip mined will be restored and two wetlands affected by the project would be restored.

Longfellow estimates Oxford is “a year or more” removed from the start of the project as further permits must be approved.

(Read the Public Road Consent agreement here.)

Two agreements tied to the full approval from commissioners on the Public Road Consent are the Road Use/Maintenance Agreement and the Mining Agreement.

The Road Use/Maintenance Agreement is standard for any mineral extraction project near a public road, according to Longfellow.

“It’s saying what’s going to happen if they tear up the road,” he said. “The other agreement is a Mining Agreement, which is if anything would happen during the mining process, what’s Oxford’s responsibility.”

Tuesday’s meeting also served as a public hearing on the matter of the Public Road Consent. No one in attendance spoke out for or against the agreement.