McCoy Elkhorn seeks permit for eastern Kentucky deep mine

The McCoy Elkhorn Coal unit of James River Coal (NASDAQ: JRCC) is pursuing a wastewater permit for an expanded mine project in Pike County, Ky.

On Sept. 26, the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection put out for public comment a socioeconomic report on the project written by the company. The proposed project is an underground mining operation (covered also under KDNR Permit No. 898-4324 A3). The project will be recovering coal reserves from the Lower Alma and Upper Alma coal seams.

The site is located about 1 mile northeast of the junction of Meathouse Road and State Highway 194 in Pike County. The nearest community is Meta, which is about 10.5 miles southwest of the project site. This operation will provide for the continuation of 50 higher-wage jobs in the area work force.

“The recovery of the Lower Alma and Upper Alma coal seams over the life of the project will produce over 12.8 million tons of coal,” said the report. “This will continue the generation of tax revenues. An estimated $33.5 million in severance taxes will be produced by this project, and the surrounding counties will receive an estimated total of $5.0 million dollars (15 percent) associated with the coal removing portions of this project.”

Portions of this area in Pike County have been previously disturbed by coal mining operations, logging and timber harvest, urban and residential development, and agricultural practices. McCoy Elkhorn proposes to add 5.7 acres of underground mining of the Alma and Lower Alma seams and 2,107.3 acres of underground mining of the Upper Alma seam. McCoy Elkhorn also proposes the addition of 2.7 acres for Hollow Fill 5 and road fill, as well as the construction of Pond 5, which will be 0.5 acres in size. Also, the company proposes the addition of 1.5 acres of face-up area, 0.4 acres of stockpile area, 2.8 acres of mine management area, and a total of 7.1 acres for Roads G, H, I, J and K.

Said the March 1 Form 10-K annual report of James River Coal about this operation: “The McCoy Elkhorn complex is located in Pike and Floyd counties in eastern Kentucky. Our underground mines use room and pillar mining and our surface mine uses the contour and highwall mining methods. Two of the underground mines and the highwall miner at the McCoy Elkhorn complex are operated by contractors. We mine the Millard, Alma, Whitesburg, Fireclay, Elkhorn #2 and Elkhorn #3 seams at this complex. Coal is processed at our three preparation plants and loaded into railcars via integrated four-hour unit train loadouts on the CSX railroad. As of December 31, 2011, we employed 413 mining and support personnel at this complex.”

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.