Illinois EPA plans Jan. 9 hearing on Littleton coal mine permit

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency plans a Jan. 9, 2013, hearing in Rushville, Ill., on a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for Grindstone Management LLC for the planned Littleton coal strip mine.

The mine would be located approximately three miles east/northeast of Littleton in Schuyler County. Mining operations would result in the discharge of water classified as alkaline mine drainage. Application was made for four new discharges.

The proposed Littleton mine will be on a 772.9-acre parcel of land. An application for an NPDES permit for storm related discharges of wastewater from a 551.2-acre mine site has been received. The unaffected area of the mine property will be 221.7 acres. Initially, the mine will produce 150,000 tons until a complete boxcut is opened. The mine is expected to produce approximately 400,000 raw tons annually at full capacity, with a projected life of approximately 4 years, IEPA noted in a public hearing notice.

Equipment from the existing North Grindstone mine will eventually be transferred to the new Littleton strip mine in Schuyler County, said Greg Arnett of Black Nugget LLC, a company that is working on the Illinois mining project. Arnett spoke May 15 at an informal conference of the Illinois Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM), which is processing a mine permit application for the Littleton project. Arnett said that Black Nugget LLC mainly focuses on providing labor, equipment and supplies to extract coal using surface mining techniques.

The March 1 mine permit application filed at OMM shows that the Littleton mine would work the Colchester #2 coal seam. That seam ranges from 1.6 to 2.8 feet thick in the permit area, with overburden ranging from 38 to 73 feet. Analysis shows coal specs within the seam of 2.9% pyritic sulfur, 5.2% total sulfur, 13,054 Btu/lb and 9.8% ash. Planned production is 400,000 raw tons per year for about four years, with total production over the mine life of about 1.4 million tons.

The application shows that the CEO of Grindstone Management is Brian Veldhuizen, the COO is Michael Caldwell and the Vice President is Thomas Austin. These are the same parties behind long-established Illinois coal producer Springfield Coal Co. LLC.

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.