The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comment until Jan. 17 on a draft NPDES water permit for Peabody Arclar Mining LLC’s new Rocky Branch strip mine, located about a mile west of Equality in Saline County, Ill.
The Rocky Branch mine would be located south of the Cottage Grove mine, which is nearing completion of mining, the agency noted. Approximately 8.8 million tons of recoverable coal are within the multiple-seam mine plan for Rocky Branch.
Proposed mining within Pit 1 would require the establishment of seven NPDES outfalls. All of the outfalls are expected to contact coal either by receiving runoff from actively mined areas, receiving runoff from coal preparation and stockpile areas, or from receiving pit pumpage that may contact coal cleanings. Stormwater runoff from 800 acres of land would be routed through sediment basins and NPDES permitted outfalls.
According to information given by Peabody Arclar Mining, significant social and economic losses would be experienced by the local economy if the mining plan does not proceed as planned. Specifically, about 200 jobs with a payroll of $21.6m annually would be lost along with many other spin off jobs resulting from the proposed mining activity.
A mine permit application filed at the Illinois Office of Mines and Minerals said that the Rocky Branch mine will produce about 800,000 tons per year out of two pits. Pit 1 will work the Allenby, Danville No. 7, Herrin No. 6, Briar Hill No. 5a and Springfield No 3 coal seams, while Pit 2 will work the Allenby and Herrin No. 6 seams.
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that Peabody Midwest Mining LLC, controlled by Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), operates the Wildcat Hills Mine-Cottage Grove Pit in Illinois, which produced 1.6 million tons in the first nine months of this year and 2 million tons in all of 2012.