Armstrong Coal permits new Lewis Creek area, starts up deep mine

Armstrong Coal is seeking a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a strip mine project located about 4.1 miles south of Centertown in Ohio County, Ky.

The Corps office in Louisville, Ky., is taking public comment on the application until Jan. 14.

“The proposed project would result in discharges of fill and/or dredged material into ‘waters of the United States’ on a majority of a 1,141.8-acre area, which is also being reviewed as the Armstrong Coal Company, Lewis Creek West Mining Complex by the Kentucky Division of Mine Permits (KDMP) ID No. 892-0115,” said a Corps public notice. “The proposed project would fill 0.375 acre of open water, 16.260 acres of forested wetland (PFO), 0.379 acre of scrub-shrub wetland (PSS), 0.518 acre of emergent wetland (PEM), 22,045 linear feet of intermittent streams and 47,752 linear feet of ephemeral streams. Also 200 linear feet of a perennial stream would be temporarily impacted by the installation of a bridge crossing which would be removed and the stream restored after mining.”

Armstrong Coal’s preferred alternative has taken into consideration various mining methods to maximize the opportunities for avoidance and minimization measures related to stream impacts. “Through this evaluation, the applicant has resized and restructured the proposed project’s footprint to avoid impacts to adjacent potential jurisdictional waters along the southern and eastern boundaries, in which Armstrong Coal Company has surface and mineral rights to economically recoverable coal reserves,” the Corps noted.

Armstrong Coal has been planning an IPO under the name of new corporate parent Armstrong Energy, with a May 30 prospectus filing with the SEC saying about this operation: “The Lewis Creek mine is a surface mine located approximately five miles south of Centertown, Kentucky and approximately 3.5 miles from the Midway Preparation Plant. Production commenced in June 2011 at the Lewis Creek mine, and thermal coal is being mined from the West Kentucky seams #13A and #13. Lewis Creek produced approximately 0.5 million tons of clean coal in 2011. A dragline equipped with a 20 yard bucket is used in conjunction with mobile mining equipment to remove overburden and construct the dragline bench at the Lewis Creek mine. There are approximately 6 million tons of proven and probable reserves at the Lewis Creek surface mine. Coal mined at the Lewis Creek mine is transported by truck to the Midway Preparation Plant for processing and subsequent delivery to our customers.”

The May 30 report also said that the company at that point anticipated opening the Lewis Creek underground mine in 2013, assuming that it receives all necessary permits for operation of that mine. The Lewis Creek mine would produce coal from the West Kentucky #9 seam utilizing two continuous miner super sections operating concurrently. Once fully operational, the Lewis Creek deep mine is projected to produce about 1.3 million tons of clean coal per year. There are approximately 22 million tons of proven and probable reserves at this operation.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that the Lewis Creek surface mine got a production start in the second quarter of 2011, produced 488,278 tons during the rest of that year, then turned out 781,694 tons in the first nine months of this year. The Lewis Creek deep mine got a production start in the third quarter of this year and turned out 405 tons, 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.