The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Louisville, Ky., will be taking comment until Aug. 8 on a Section 404 Clean Water Act application from White Oak Resources related to surface infrastructure for its longwall mine project in Hamilton County, Ill.
The White Oak Mine No. 1 project is located in unnamed tributary streams and associated wetlands of Big Creek, located northwest of Delafield in Hamilton County.
“The proposed underground coal mine project would result in discharges of fill and/or dredged material into ‘waters of the United States (U.S.)’ throughout the 613-acre surface facility site,” said a Corps public notice. “The proposed impacts are located, in part, on site pending approval by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) under Permit No. 431 and also for additional future expansion areas. The underground Coal removal shadow area that the existing and proposed surface Facilities would support would be 11,389 acres.”
This proposal is in addition to a project previously approved by the Corps under Nationwide Permit 50, Underground Coal Mining Activities, as published in the Federal Register in March 2007. That permit authorized impacts to 480 linear feet of ephemeral and intermittent streams, and 2.6 acres of palustrine emergent (PEM) wetlands. The impacts were necessary for the construction of a rail loop, refuse disposal Refuse Disposal Area #1 and attendant features of the facility.
The current proposal seeks to modify impacts necessary for the rail loop, expansion of Refuse Disposal Area #1, approval of a Refuse Disposal Area #2, and areas that are expected to be utilized in the future for further disposal, but not currently pending IDNR review or approval.
The expansion of Refuse Area #1 would necessitate impacts to 1,811 linear feet of ephemeral stream. The proposed Refuse Area #2 would necessitate impacts to 4,192 linear feet of intermittent and 0.07 acre of open water. Furthermore, the applicant is planning to submit to IDNR for approval of a future refuse disposal that would necessitate the impact to 9,166.9 linear feet of ephemeral and intermittent stream, as well as, 2.29 acres of wetland. In total, White Oak Resources is requesting approval to fill 16,095.9 linear feet of stream, 2.29 acres of wetlands, and 0.07 acre of open water will be impacted.
White Oak Resources is part owned by Alliance Resource Partners LP (NASDAQ: ARLP), which said in a May 23 investor presentation that longwall operations at this project are expected to start in mid 2014. White Oak No. 1, to work the Herrin No. 6 coal seam with a production start this year, will eventually produce up to 6.5 million tons per year when the longwall is fully operational. This is a high-sulfur coal headed primarily to scrubber-equipped power plants in the eastern U.S.