Metinvest reports big jump in United Coal met coal output

Metinvest Group out of the Ukraine reported Nov. 23 that mining of coking coal grew by about 444,000 tonnes to 8.8 million tonnes in the first nine months of this year, against the first nine months of 2011, primarily driven by a 794,000 tonnes increase in the mining of coking coal at the U.S. operations of United Coal, while mining at Ukrainian operations of Krasnodon Coal was reduced by 350,000 tonnes.

“The increase in volumes of coking coal mined at United Coal was mainly due to the launch of the new Affinity mine (up 320 thousand tonnes), the development of a new site at the Wellmore mines (up 474 thousand tonnes) and the commissioning of an additional bench highwall mining at one of the Pocahontas mines (up 100 thousand tonnes),” said Metinvest. “At the same time, there was a decrease by 100 thousand tonnes in mining of coking coal at the Carter Roag mines as a result of activities carried out to improve working conditions.”

Affinity Coal operates a long-shut deep mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., that United Coal has reopened to work a split of the high-quality Pocahontas coal seam. U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that the Affinity mine, after a restart in the second quarter of 2011, produced only 8,071 tons during the rest of that year, with output of 212,105 tons in the first nine months of this year.

The Pocahontas Coal deep and highwall mine ops are located near Affinity and feed coal into the East Gulf prep plant. Pocahontas Coal has two deep mines (Josephine No. 2 and No. 3), the East Gulf plant and the Pocahontas Highwall jobs listed with MSHA, with the highwall operation kicking out 407,841 tons in the first nine months of this year, ahead of a pace that saw output of 459,818 tons in all of 2011.

Wellmore Coal is a mining operation mainly in Virginia (with some crossover into eastern Kentucky), while Carter Roag Coal is a coking coal producer in Randolph County, W.Va.

The slowdown in mining volumes at the Ukrainian coal operations was driven by a reduction in the average number of breakage faces in operation due to the technical schedule for face commissioning and decommissioning.

Reduced mining of coking coal in the third quarter (2.7 million tonnes) by 444,000 tonnes compared to the second quarter of 2012 (3.1 million tonnes) was due to lower output at United Coal’s mines resulting from a stoppage at the Carter Roag mines (down 122,000 tonnes) and the vacation period in July and August (down 209,000 tonnes), as well as a reduction at Krasnodon Coal mines’ output (down 113,000 tonnes) due to the decommissioning of the breakage face line and delay in the commissioning of new faces (due to equipment relocation).

Total volumes of steam coal mined during the first nine months of 2012 decreased by 1.2 million tonnes to 468,000 tonnes, whereas in the third quarter there was a growth by 34,000 tonnes quarter over quarter to 98,000 tonnes. “The reduction in output over 9M 2012 was the result of suspended steam coal mining at the Wellmore and Sapphire mines due to low demand in the US,” the company said. Sapphire Coal is a mining operation in eastern Kentucky.

Here are the mines under various Metinvest subsidiaries that are registered with MSHA and classified as new mines with no production yet:

  • Banner Co., Dismal Upper Banner #1 deep mine, Dickenson County, Va., first listed with MSHA in 1999.
  • Surface Minerals Co., Starr Br. and Convict East surface mines, both in Buchanan County, Va., and both listed with MSHA in 2008.
  • Surface Minerals Co., Bee Tree Auger surface job, Buchanan County, Va., listed in 2010.
  • Black Diamond Co., Rockhouse deep mine, Buchanan County, Va., listed in 2005.

Also listed with MSHA since August 2011 is the “temporarily idled” Roaring Creek deep mine of Metinvest’s Roaring Creek Coal, which is located in Upshur County, W.Va. MSHA data shows that the mine has had 1-4 employees since it was first registered with that agency, but no actual production in that time.

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.