The Eastern Associated Coal LLC unit of Patriot Coal (NYSE: PCX) is pursuing a new air permit at its Rocklick prep plant to account for alterations at the facility that were largely performed many years ago.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking public comment until May 4 on the proposed air permit. After-the-fact modification of the prior permit for the facility would do the following: include an existing clean coal conveyor installed in 1993; include existing an magnetite bin located inside the Rocklick prep plant building installed in 1993; and include the previously grand-fathered Harris plant haulroad because it was lengthened in 2008 from 1.4 miles to 1.64 miles roundtrip.
Raw coal comes to the prep plant from various mine, including the Winifrede 13A mine. A truck dump bin has been permitted, but not yet constructed, and can receive dumped coal via a transfer point and then drop it to the Powellton Tunnel through an enclosed chute. The Black Oak mine belt system is currently permitted, but had not yet been constructed. Raw coal will be conveyed out of the Black Oak mine and drop into an open storage pile, the DEP noted in an engineering fact sheet on the new air permit.
Raw coal can be trucked to the facility on a paved haulroad and dumped through transfer points into one of two 100-ton raw coal bins. Raw coal may also be dumped via trucks over a highwall via a transfer point. Raw coal is also conveyed from Harris to Rocklick using an underground conveyor system. Additionally, raw coal is also conveyed from Winifrede to Rocklick using an overland conveyor system. Clean coal is then transferred to railcar via a transfer point.
Said Patriot about this operation in its Feb. 23 annual Form 10-K report: “The Rocklick mining complex is located in southern West Virginia and is sourced by two company-operated underground mines, Black Oak and Gateway Eagle, and two contractor-operated underground mines. Coal at the Rocklick mining complex is produced utilizing continuous mining methods. Rocklick has the capability to transport coal on both the CSX and the Norfolk Southern railroads. Metallurgical coal at the Black Oak mine is produced from the No. 2 Gas seam. The Gateway Eagle mine opened in 2011 and produces metallurgical coal from the Eagle seam. Our contract mines produce metallurgical coal from the Eagle and No. 2 Gas seams. Thermal coal can also be processed and sold at this operation. Certain employees at the company-operated facilities of the Rocklick mining complex are represented by the UMWA. In January 2012, we announced plans to idle the Gateway Eagle mine and one contractor-operated mine, as well as to reduce production at the Black Oak mine.”