ArcelorMittal unit pursues coal mine permits in West Virginia

The Black Wolf Mining unit of international steelmaker ArcelorMittal is working on a permit for a new deep mine in the Pocahontas No. 6 seam in McDowell County, W.Va.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said in an April 4 public notice that this application allows for the deep mining of coal in the Pocahontas No. 6 seam, the development of one portal, one primary haulroad, one infrequently used access road and one temporary durable rock fill. The DEP database shows that this application, for the 6 Point room-and-pillar mine, was filed March 1. The public notice marks the fact the application is now administratively complete, which means the blanks have been filled in properly and it can now get months of full processing.

The only other pending Black Wolf mine permit application was filed in February 2011 for the Black Falcon No. 1 room-and-pillar job, which would work the Pocahontas No. 9 coal seam. This site, like the 6 Point job, is located near Eckman in McDowell County.

Black Wolf Mining has no operations listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration under that name. It is common for mines like this to be operated by contractors or affiliated companies that would be the ones listed with MSHA. U.S. Office of Surface Mining data shows that the direct parent of Black Wolf Mining is Arcelormittal Mid Vol Group Inc. ArcelorMittal companies that do have operations listed with MSHA include Extra Energy, Prime Processing, Twin State Mining and XMV Inc.

“The ArcelorMittal Princeton (‘AMP’) properties are located in McDowell County, West Virginia and Tazewell County, Virginia, approximately 30 miles west of the city of Princeton, West Virginia, where AMP’s corporate office is located,” said ArcelorMittal’s Feb. 22 annual Form 20-F filing at the SEC about these operations. “The properties consist of two operating areas: the Low Vol operations and the Mid Vol operations, which are situated south of U.S. Route 52.”

The larger Low Vol operations are located in McDowell County, near the communities of Northfork, Keystone, Eckman, Gary, Berwind and War. The Eckman Plant, Dans Branch Loadout, Eckman 2 and Redhawk 1 surface mines are also located here, as well as the following deep mines: XMV Mine Nos. 32, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40 and 42.

The Mid Vol operations are in southeastern McDowell County and northwestern Tazewell County. The mine operations office is located at Horsepen, Va., near the Mid Vol operations.

“Significant underground mining of some of the deeper coal seams on the properties have occurred, notably the Pocahontas no. 3 and no. 4 seams,” the Form 20-F noted. “In addition, a substantial amount of the thicker coal outcrops have been previously contour mined, providing access for highwall mining and on-bench storage of excess spoil from future, larger-scale surface mining. AMP was created in 2008 when the Mid-Vol Coal Group and the Concept Mining Group were integrated.” Those are two companies that ArcelorMittal bought that year in separate transactions as it moved to secure a supply of met coal for its coking operations at a time of tight coal markets.

The combined production of these U.S. coal mines in 2011 was 2.4 million tonnes of washed and directly shippable coal.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest and most global steel producer and an important iron ore and coal producer as well, with production of 91.9 million tonnes of crude steel, 65.2 million tonnes of iron ore and 8.9 million tonnes of coal in 2011. ArcelorMittal is the largest steel producer in North and South America, Europe and Africa, the fourth largest steel producer in the CIS and has a growing presence in Asia, particularly in China.

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.