The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking comment until April 21 on an application by ICG Tygart Valley LLC to up the permitted throughput rates at the new Leer prep plant in Taylor County.
ICG Tygart Valley parent Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI) has in recent years developed a new longwall mine at this site that produces metallurgical coal. It has also been permitting further such mines nearby. Note that the mine and prep plant are called Leer because Arch changed their names from Tygart Valley to honor former company head Steve Leer.
The proposed modifications to the existing air permit would include:
- increase the maximum capacity and base area of raw coal open storage piles OS1, OS2 and OS3;
- increase the throughput rate for raw coal screen S1 from 1,500 tons per hour (TPH) to 2,000 TPH;
- increase the throughput rates for raw coal crusher CR1 from 500 TPH and 2,847,000 tons per year (TPY) to 2,000 TPH and 9,198,000 TPY;
- increase the raw coal prep plant feed rate from 1,400 TPH and 11,388,000 TPY to 2,000 TPH and 13,140,000 TPY;
- increase the maximum capacity of clean coal open storage piles OS4, OS5 and OS6;
- increase the refuse throughput rates from 600 and 650 TPH to 1,100 and 1,150 TPH;
- increase the maximum hourly throughput hauled by refuse trucks from 15 trips per hour to 30 trips per hour; and
- include as-built corrections because magnetite bins BS3 and BS4 were previously permitted with 50 tons capacity each but actually have 100 ton capacity each.
ICG Tygart Valley, which is one of the operations that Arch Coal took over in 2011 in a buy of International Coal Group, is operating the existing facility under a permit approved in March 2013.
Also within this application, ICG Tygart Valley is requesting to remove the temporary equipment which was originally permitted in 2011 and to only be used during development of the mine shaft. The temporary equipment was permitted to operate until mine development was complete and the preparation plant became operational. Since the preparation plant has been in operation for some time now, the temporary equipment will be removed from the permit.
Arch Coal announced in December 2013 that its new Leer mine had begun operating its longwall mining system, representing a major milestone in the development of the overall mining complex. The Leer minewas expected to ramp up production during the first quarter of 2014, and to produce more than 3 million tons of coal on an annualized basis thereafter from the Lower Kittanning coal seam. The majority of the output will be sold into domestic and international metallurgical coal markets for use in the production of steel.
The Leer mine is listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration under ACI Tygart Valley. It got a production start in the fourth quarter of 2011 and produced 55,526 tons in all of 2012, ramping up to 569,488 tons in 2013.
In 2013, the DEP’s mining division issued permits to Arch Coal’s Shelby Run Mining Co. LLC unit for two room-and-pillar deep mines, called Shelby Run and Tucker Run, that would be near the Leer complex and would also work the Lower Kittanning seam. DEP records show that neither mine has been started yet.