Alpha unit pursues Corps permit for major new Pa. coal mine

River Processing Corp., which is a unit of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR), is pursuing a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit for the big new Upper Freeport-seam mining project of Alpha’s Freeport Mining LLC subsidiary.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Pittsburgh is taking public comment on the permit application until Oct. 24.

There are two major components to this proposed project, said a Corps public notice:

  • The No.1 Shaft and No. 1 Slope located in Morgan and Jefferson townships respectively, in Greene County, Pa.
  • Surface Facilities and Coal Refuse Disposal Area #1, located in Jefferson Township.

River Processing, with its affiliate Freeport Mining, proposes to construct the Freeport Mine Complex near the town of Clarksville in Morgan and Jefferson townships. The No. 1 Shaft and No. 1 Slope is for access to a new room and pillar mine, and is necessary for accessing the Upper Freeport coal seam.

Components of this project include: construction of a vertical shaft and slope for the transportation of employees, supplies, and small equipment to the mine workings; surface facilities including administrative buildings and a bathhouse; surface facilities including a prep plant and overland conveyer; barge loadout facility at about river mile 67 of the Monongahela River; and a new coal refuse disposal area of around 147 acres and located adjacent to the surface facilities.

The projected unavoidable aquatic resource impacts as a result of this proposed project will total 7,709 linear feet of stream impact and 4.32 acres of wetland impact. River Processing has proposed to mitigate these impacts by performing “Permittee-Responsible” mitigation in the same subwatershed (Castile Run) as the proposed impacts, the Corps noted. 

In an August investor presentation, Alpha said this project has 68 million tons of coal reserves, a targeted production rate of 3 million tons per year, a mine life of over 20 years and a projected capital cost of over $350m. Much of the production will be aimed at the metallurgical coal market. This project, along with the nearby Foundation longwall mine project in the Pittsburgh seam, has been in the planning stages for years, dating back to before Alpha’s 2009 acquisition of Foundation Coal Holdings.

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.