The Consolidation Coal unit of CONSOL Energy (NYSE:CNX) is making progress toward permitting an unusual deep mine in Harrison County, W.Va. called the Cunningham Run operation.
A mine permit application was filed Dec. 19, 2011, for this operation at the West Virginia Department of Environment. DEP records show that on Feb. 29, the application was declared as administratively complete, meaning the blanks in the application have been filled in properly and it can now get full processing, which will take a number of months to complete.
The DEP database shows that Cunningham Run would be a room-and-pillar mine, located just southwest of Wyatt, that would work the Pittsburgh and Redstone coal seams. A map on the DEP website shows that the portal for Cunningham Run would be located two or three miles northeast of CONSOL’s big Robinson Run longwall mine, which is one of several CONSOL longwall jobs in the region working the Pittsburgh seam.
What makes Cunningham Run unusual is that it is designated by DEP as a room-and-pillar mine in a region where CONSOL only runs longwall operations. A CONSOL official has said this would not be an extension of Robinson Run and declined further comment.
CONSOL has since 2008 been also quietly permitting, under a subsidiary called Wolfpen Knob Development, the new Mason Dixon longwall mine and attendant prep plant in Monongalia County, W.Va. That mine permit application is still pending at the DEP.
CONSOL has indicated it wants to finish expanding some of its existing longwall mines in the region before it spends the money to develop the Mason Dixon complex, which would work the Pittsburgh coal seam. CONSOL said in a 2008 filing at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board related to planned Norfolk Southern Corp. rail transport of this coal that the Mason Dixon complex would turn out 8.5 million tons per year initially, with the eventual production level to perhaps be three times that number.