The Alabama Surface Mining Commission on March 14 issued a permit to Quality Coal for the 382-acre Sparks Branch No. 2 surface mine in Walker County.
The permit area is within the abandoned works of the Hillard Coal punch mine in the Mary Lee coal seam. A portion of this mine has been previously eliminated by other surface mining. The targeted seams for this new mine are the New Castle (averages 9.9 inches thick in the permit area, average 1.77% sulfur), Mary Lee (22.2 inches, 0.5% sulfur) and Blue Creek (15.2 inches, 2.4% sulfur). Several other strip mines are nearby, including Quality Coal’s Sparks Branch and McCollum mines, said a geology report in the permit application.
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration database shows Quality Coal as controlled by Jon Ingle and that it has two mines registered with that agency. One of them is the McCollum/Sparks Branch strip job in Walker County, which produced 42,977 tons in 2011 and 101,953 tons in 2010. Then there is the Dutton Hill strip job in Walker County, which turned out 112,044 tons in 2011 and 75,064 tons in 2010, after getting a production start in the second quarter of that year.