Second Sterling Corp. (SSC), a unit of Russia’s Mechel OAO, is seeking an air permit change from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that would up the throughput at the Keystone #1 prep plant in McDowell County.
The DEP is taking public comment on the draft permit until April 13. “SSC is proposing to modify the Keystone #1 Coal Preparation Plant primarily by increasing the hourly raw coal input to the wet wash plant from 350 tons per hour (TPH) to 470 TPH without any increase in annual throughput,” said a DEP fact sheer. “No hourly increase in clean coal produced was requested.”
In June 1977, Eastern Associated Coal was issued a permit for the construction of a thermal dryer at the Keystone #1 plant, which was constructed in 1952. Various other facility changes have been permitting over the years, including the addition of two new storage bins and an increase in the sulfur content of the coal combusted in the thermal dryer.
“The existing Keystone facility is a typical wet-wash coal preparation plant with raw coal, clean coal (utilizing thermal drying), and refuse circuits,” the DEP fact sheer said. “The existing wet-wash plant has a capacity of 350 tons per hour (TPH) and 3,066,000 tons per year (TPY). Clean coal is loaded out in trucks and rail cars and refuse is deposited into an on-site refuse area via conveyer. As of the date of this evaluation, the plant has been idle since February 2011.”
The proposed permit modifications include: increasing the hourly raw coal input to the wet wash plant from 350 TPH to 470 TPH without any increase in annual throughput; increasing the hourly refuse throughput of two conveyers from 200 TPH to 400 TPH and 300 TPH, respectively; addition of an emergency truck loadout refuse belt conveyer and associated refuse haulroad to the permit; removal of the Eckman Loadout conveying system from the permit; authorizing the open stockpiling of commingled coal (a mixture of thermally and non-thermally dried coal) in a stockpile; and addition of a raw coal overflow stockpile to the permit that was previously added to the plant in 2007 but was not permitted.
This plant is one of the Bluestone Industries metallurgical coal mining operations that Mechel bought a few years ago from coal operator Jim Justice. Said an April 2011 Form 20-F annual report filing by Mechel at the SEC: “Bluestone currently uses four washing plants: two washing plants at the Keystone Mining Complex (Keystone No. 1 and Keystone No. 2) which are owned by Bluestone; the washing plant at the Justice Energy Mining Complex (Red Fox Property) which is contracted by Bluestone pursuant to a long-term agreement, and the washing plant at the Dynamic Energy Mining Complex (Coal Mountain Property) which is also contracted by Bluestone pursuant to a long-term agreement. Keystone No. 2 was commissioned in December 2010 and Keystone No. 1 has been temporarily idle due to temporary excess of washing capacity as compared to mining capacity at the Keystone mines.”
The Keystone #1 plant is listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration under Mechel’s Keystone Service Industries unit, with MSHA showing the operation as “active” as of March 19.