Alpha adds thermal dryer to in-construction Marianna coal plant

Road Fork Development, a unit of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) that Alpha picked up in a June 2011 buy of Massey Energy, plans some major changes at the new Marianna prep plant in Wyoming County, W.Va.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking public comment until July 20 on an air permit change for the plant. The DEP noted that in June 2010, a General Permit Registration was issued to Shane Coal for the construction of the Marianna plant. The permit-holder name was later changed to Road Fork Development. The site previously housed a coal preparation plant that was shut down in 2001.

In November 2011, Road Fork Development was issued a permit for the addition of seven conveyers, three storage bins and one open storage pile. “The facility, however, has not yet begun to operate,” said a DEP fact sheet.

The Marianna facility is planned to be a typical wet-wash coal preparation plant with raw coal, clean coal and refuse circuits. The wet-wash plant has a capacity to clean 900 tons per hour and 4,275,000 tons per year of raw coal. The facility is capable of loading out clean coal in trucks and rail cars and refuse is to be deposited into an on-site refuse area via conveyer loadout into trucks. The existing facility does not, as currently permitted, use thermal drying.

The proposed new modifications include:

  • addition of a 78 mmBtu/hr natural gas-fired thermal dryer;
  • addition of an alternative refuse circuit; and
  • modification of haulroad routes.

The thermal dryer would be capable of drying a maximum of 140 tons of coal per hour. The coal will be dried by direct contact with the exhaust of the natural gas burners and removed from the gas stream through the use of a cyclone and a baghouse. Moisture content of the coal will be reduced from 15% to 7%, which would mean this dried coal can command a higher market price. The alternative refuse circuit would be constructed to take refuse to a new disposal area northeast of the plant.

On March 28, a DEP official conducted a site inspection and the facility was under construction at the time. “While the facility was nearing completion, significant work remained including paving of plant grounds, erection of some conveyers, and removal of construction debris,” the fact sheet said. The thermal dryer and the new refuse circuit were not under construction at that point. The facility lies just west of the Guyandotte River along WV State Route 97 about eight miles west-northwest of Pineville, W.Va.

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.