Corps seeks comment on refuse permit for idled Ohio coal mine

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Huntington, W.Va., is taking public comment until May 24 on a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit application from coal operator Chris Cline’s Gatling Ohio LLC on a coal refuse disposal project that would impact streams and wetlands in Meigs County, Ohio.

The proposed project would be located within unnamed tributaries to Yellowbush Creek, about 1.6 miles southeast of Racine. The project would impact 41.6 acres. The refuse material would consist of compacted coarse refuse with added alkaline amendment material. This facility would accept seven years worth, about 6.6 million tons, of refuse material from the existing prep plant and underground mine in the No. 8A coal seam, a Corps notice said.

Coal landholder Natural Resource Partners LP (NYSE: NRP), which owns underlying coal reserves at this mine, reported in its Feb. 29 annual Form 10-K report that Gatling Ohio recently encountered adverse geologic conditions. “Historically, two continuous miner units have operated in the mine, but both of those two units have recently shut down due to the incursion of significant sandstone into the coal seam, and Gatling Ohio informed us in late December that it is uneconomical for it to continue to operate the mine, has idled the operation indefinitely and has declared force majeure on its coal sales contracts,” NRP wrote.

This mine, while permitted under Gatling Ohio, is listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration as the Yellowbush mine of Yellow Bush Mining LLC. The MSHA database shows the mine as “nonproducing” as of April 26, with no production in the first quarter of this year and 443,552 tons of output in 2011.

The Corps process is not the only permitting avenue that Gatling Ohio is pursuing for this mine. A list of pending mine permit applications, updated through the end of March, from the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources shows three applications from Gatling Ohio dating back to 2010 and 2011. One is largely for 4,027 new acres of underground mining area in the No. 8A seam, another is for 831 underground acres in the No. 8A seam, and the third is for 49.6 acres of surface refuse disposal area.

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.