The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said in an April 30 public notice that the Hampden Coal Co. LLC unit of James River Coal (NASDAQ: JRCC) is seeking an Article 11/West Virginia National Pollutant Discharge Elimination permit for a surface mine project in Logan, McDowell and Mingo counties.
The permitting covers the proposed Canebrake surface mine and haulroad. The surface mine would utilize area, contour, steep slope, auger and highwall methods of mining in the Williamson, Lower Williamson, Upper Cedar Grove, Lower Cedar Grove, Upper Alma Rider, Upper Alma Upper Bench, Upper Alma Lower Bench and Lower Alma seams and all associated splits and riders.
The operation will discharge treated and stormwater into unnamed tributaries of Canebrake Branch and Canebrake Branch, unnamed tributaries of Browning Fork and the Guyandotte River. This operation is located 2.5 miles northwest of Gilbert. The public notice marks the fact the draft permit has been moved from a DEP regional office to the agency’s main office for final approval.
The DEP’s mining division has four applications pending from Hampden Coal for the: 490-acre Canebrake Contour strip job in Logan County; the 166-acre Harry’s Branch strip job in Monroe and Mingo counties; the 39-acre Pound Mill strip operation in Logan County; and the Henry’s Branch #3B room-and-pillar deep mine, to work the 2 Gas coal seam in Mingo County.
Said James River Coal about this operation in its March 1 Form 10-K report: “The Hampden Coal Complex is located in Mingo and Logan counties in southern West Virginia. The underground operations use room-and-pillar mining to produce metallurgical coal from the 2 Gas and Lower Cedar Grove seams. The surface mine produces metallurgical and steam coal from the Alma seam. Coal is processed at the Hampden Preparation Plant and loaded into railcars via 2 CSX load-outs and 1 Norfolk Southern Load-out. As of December 31, 2011, we employed approximately 433 mining and support personnel at this complex.”