Cedar Lake Mining Inc. applied April 25 at the Alabama Surface Mining Commission for a permit on a slimmed-down version of its Little Spring Creek-East strip mine in Walker County.
“This site was originally proposed to occupy 1173 acres but due to economies of scale and at the recommendation of the participants at the Interagency Coordination meeting of January 4, 2011, this site has been reduced to 589 acres,” said a geology report that was part of the application. “Since substantial geological and hydrological data has been obtained for the larger site, these data are included in this analysis to more closely approximate the geologic and hydrologic conditions on the entire area proposed for current and future mining.”
The proposed mine site will occupy about 589 acres of which 583 acres will be bonded as mining area and will be disturbed in the mining process. An additional 6 acres will be bonded as incidental acres for the coal stockpile, office area, equipment storage and primary haul roads. The proposed mine site is located within the Mulberry Fork drainage basin of the Warrior Coal Field.
The coal seam to be mined at this site is the Black Creek. The Jefferson seam was present as a marker in several exploration drill holes but due to its thinness is not considered minable, the geology report noted. When the Jefferson seam was encountered, it only showed approximately two to three inches in thickness and was collected with the corresponding overburden interval sample and was not deemed of sufficient thickness to separate as an individual sample. No Lick Creek-seam coal was encountered in any exploration drill holes and is not present at the site.
Within the proposed permit area, the Black Creek seam averages around 17.28 inches (1.44 feet) in thickness. Overburden thickness above the Black Creek seam ranges from 0 feet at the cropline to a maximum of 137.62 feet and averages 70.31 feet over the entire proposed mine site (including the Little Spring Creek-East and Little Spring Creek-West tracts).
The application shows this mine is covered by U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration ID #0103444, issued in November 2011. MSHA data shows Cedar Lake Mining, controlled by Otis Robison Jr., with three mines, all Alabama strip jobs, that have been listed with that agency. That includes the mine currently being permitted, which is called simply Little Spring Creek in the MSHA database and is counted as a new mine with no production yet. There is also the new Bull Gap mine and the active Reese’s Branch mine listed with MSHA. Reese’s Branch, located in Walker County, produced 77,742 tons in the first quarter of this year and 603,013 tons in all of 2011, MSHA data shows.