Illinois EPA readies water permit for new Arch Coal mine

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled a March 21 public hearing in Pinckneyville in Perry County over a draft Section 404 water quality permit for the big new Lost Prairie room-and-pillar mine of Prairie Coal Co. LLC, a unit of Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI).

“The applicant has applied for Section 401 water quality certification for impacts associated with the above ground facilities associated with an underground mine,” said an IEPA public notice. “The project area consists of approximately 848 acres located in Sections 29, 30, 31, and 32 T4S, R3W in Perry County. Two portals constructed and two airshafts for ventilation will be constructed to the underground mine. The surface facilities will include roads, a rail load out and transport system, coal and soil stockpiles, coal refuse disposal facilities, preparation plant, an office/maintenance building with parking area, and Sedimentation Pond #1. Sediment Pond #1 is a temporary impoundment and will be reclaimed during the final reclamation process.”

The Section 401 hearing will follow right after a separate IEPA hearing on the project’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water permit.

Arch Coal, which pulled out of active Illinois Basin production in the late 1990s, due to the 1990 Clean Air Act restrictions on power generators, is getting back into the basin in a big way, so far only in Illinois. Renewed interest in this high-sulfur coal region is keyed by numerous SO2 scrubbers being installed on power plants in the eastern U.S., with those scrubbers allowing those plants to cleanly burn this coal.

Arch has a 49% stake in Illinois coal producer Knight Hawk Coal LLC, it in June 2011 got the active Viper deep mine in Illinois in a buy of International Coal Group and in 2011 it secured a state mine permit for Lost Prairie, which would work the high-sulfur No. 6 coal seam. Arch hasn’t said when it might develop Lost Prairie, which it told state mine regulators would produce up to 3.5 million tons per year.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.