Justice company pursues Kentucky coal mine permitting

Sequoia Energy LLC, controlled by coal operator Jim Justice II, is revising a wastewater permit for a deep mine in Harlan County, Ky., that is expected to produce at least 215,000 tons of coal per year over the next five years.

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection put the permitting, including a socioeconomic report written by the company, out for public notice on April 19. The proposed revision includes an expansion of the surface area associated with an existing permit for the Harlan #1 deep mine. The existing permit includes a face up located 5 miles southeast of the intersection of State Route KY 72 and US Route 421 in Harlan County.

“The Harlan deep mine #1 is expected to produce coal for the next five years at minimum,” said the report written by the company. “The mine site anticipates continuing to employ 35 to 50 miners; and, it will maintain additional ancillary positions such as truck drivers, vendors, and suppliers as needed. There is also a coal preparation plant offsite but within Harlan County. … Production from the mining operation is expected to exceed 215,000 tons per year during the five year (minimum) planned production period.” The report gave figures on expected tax revenue for the operation based on an assumed coal sales price of $50/ton.

There is only one operation listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration under Sequoia Energy, which is a prep plant in Harlan County. Sequoia Energy is part of Justice’s Southern Coal operation, which said on its website: “Southern Coal Corporation is wholly owned by the Justice Family and headquartered in Beckley, West Virginia. The company was formed as the parent company to incorporate various coal assets separately held by the Justice Family, including: A&G Coal Corporation, Sequoia Energy LLC, Premium Coal Company Inc., and Tams Management, Inc. Southern Coal has approximately 615 million tons of high vol metallurgical, PCI (pulverized carbon injection), and steam coal reserves and resources located in the Appalachia region in the U.S. Metallurgical and PCI coal represents roughly 51%, or 314 million, tons of the company’s total coal reserves and resources.”

James “Jim” Justice II heads these operations. His son, James “Jay” Justice III, is also a senior executive with these companies.

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.