Pocahontas Coal seeking two new coal mine permits in West Virginia

The Pocahontas Coal Co. LLC unit of United Coal applied July 13 at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for a mine permit on the 162-acre Devils Backbone HWM #1 mine.

The permit would cover a haulroad, plus contour, auger and highwall miner work in the Pocahontas No. 6 coal seam. The mine would be located near Josephine in Raleigh County. The only other pending mine permit application for Pocahontas Coal was filed Jan. 30 for the Josephine No. 6 deep mine, to be located near Rhodell in Raleigh County and work the Pocahontas No. 6 seam with room-and-pillar methods.

The newest issued mine permit for Pocahontas Coal came out on Feb. 13 and is for the 238-acre Tommy Creek Highwall Mine No. 1-Devil’s Fork surface mine. This mine, which the DEP website shows as “active, moving coal,” is permitted to work the Pocahontas No. 6 and Beckley coal seams. It is located near Rhodell in Raleigh County. A July 19 DEP site inspection report shows that 25 acres of the permit area have been disturbed so far. On May 14, Commonwealth Mining LLC was approved as an operator on the site.

Pocahontas Coal parent United Coal (UCC) is a producer of coking and steam coal located in Central Appalachia. UCC is ranked the sixth among the leading producers of metallurgical coal in the United States (by public company estimates), said the company website. United Coal was founded in 2004 and acquired by Metinvest in April 2009.

“In 2005, United Coal Company purchased the assets of Beckley, W.Va.-based White Mountain Mining Co., LLC and certain affiliates to establish Pocahontas Coal Company,” said the website in an undated entry. “Pocahontas employs more than 230 people, with operations in the communities of Killarney, Josephine and Lillybrook located in southern Raleigh County, W.Va. The company’s annual coal production capacity is more than 1 million tons, with reserves totaling 72 million recoverable tons of low-volatile metallurgical coal. Pocahontas has three deep mines, a surface mine and two highwall miner operations. These mining operations are supported by the recently upgraded East Gulf preparation plant and coal-loading facilities.”

Listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration under Pocahontas Coal are the East Gulf prep plant, the Josephine No. 2 (147,548 tons of production in the first half of this year) and Josephine No. 3 (102,967 tons in the first half) deep mines, and the Pocahontas Highwall Mines (270,651 tons in the first half). All are classified as active by MSHA.

Listed with MSHA under Commonwealth Mining is the Tommy Creek Highwall Mine No. 73 surface job in Raleigh County. That listing was first made with MSHA in April 2011. MSHA shows the mine as currently active, but with no recorded production through the first half of this year. Commonwealth Mining is controlled by Cox Enterprises LLC and L C Management LLC, MSHA data shows.

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.