The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said in a brief public notice that it has gotten an application from the Rhino Eastern LLC affiliate of Rhino Resource Partners LP (NYSE: RNO) for a mine permit on an underground operation in Wyoming County.
“This application proposes to construct a slope and two ventilation shafts and deep mine in the Sewell seam of coal,” said the notice. The notice marks the fact that this September 2012 application, for a room-and-pillar operation near Wharncliffe, has been marked as administratively complete. That means the blanks have been filled in properly and the application is now ready for full processing.
This is the only pending mine permit application for Rhino Eastern at the DEP. The most recent mine permit to be issued to the company came out in January 2012 for the Eagle #3 room-and-pillar job in the Eagle seam, located near Bolt in Wyoming County. The DEP website shows that mine as “active, moving coal.”
Rhino Eastern is a partnership between Rhino Resource Partners and bankrupt Patriot Coal, where Rhino basically mines the coal and then Patriot processes it.
Rhino described the operation this way in its March 2012 Form 10-K annual report: “The Rhino Eastern mining complex is located in Raleigh and Wyoming Counties, West Virginia. We have a 51% membership interest in, and serve as manager for, the joint venture that owns the Rhino Eastern mining complex. Pursuant to the terms of a coal purchase agreement entered into under the joint venture agreement, an affiliate of our joint venture partner, Patriot, controls the amount and terms of sales of the coal produced from the Rhino Eastern mining complex. The Rhino Eastern mining complex currently produces premium metallurgical coal from two company-operated underground mines. Raw coal is trucked from the mine to a facility owned by our joint venture partner to be sized, washed and shipped by truck or via one of two rail loadouts, located on the CSX Railroad and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The Rhino Eastern mining complex produced approximately 0.3 million tons of premium mid-vol metallurgical coal for the year ended December 31, 2011.”
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows two mines, both counted as active, registered under Rhino Eastern. The Eagle #1 deep mine produced 237,429 tons in the first nine months of 2012 (fourth quarter data isn’t in yet), while the Eagle #3 deep mine got a production start in the third quarter of 2012 and produced 2,145 tons during that period.