Sunrise Coal pursues permit for new Illinois underground mine

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently posted to its website the transcript of an Oct. 7 informal conference over a mine permit application, received by the agency on July 30, from Sunrise Coal LLC for the Bulldog underground mine.

Stewart Boyd, the Project Manager for Sunrise Coal, testified: “The Bulldog Mine is an underground, non-subsidence room and pillar mine, proposed to be located at the intersection of 100 North and 800 East in Vermilion County, Illinois. The mine permit consists of approximately 13,000 underground and 391 surface acres. Currently there are 35 million tons of coal controlled by Sunrise Coal, representing leases with over 100 local landowners.

“At full capacity, this mine will provide 300 full-time jobs with a mine life of at least 20 years. Currently the average wage of our miners is $75,000 annually, with free healthcare benefits and 401K retirement. Northern Illinois University forecasts that a mine this size will indirectly bring an additional 1,100 jobs to the area and add $10.5 million to be spent in the ‘ocal community each year. State and local tax contributions from the mine are estimated at $10.9 million annually.”

The mine permit application shows the targeted coal seam is the Herrin No. 6, which is five to seven feet thick (average of 5.9 feet) within the permit area. Four continuous miners would be used in two super-section configurations. The application said the mine is expected to produce 500,000-600,000 tons of coal in the first year, with a ramp-up from there within five years to a rate of 1.2 million tons per year.

Sunrise Coal parent Hallador Energy said about this project in its Nov. 10 Form 10-Q report to the SEC: “We have leased roughly 19,300 acres in Vermillion County, Illinois near the village of Allerton. Based on our reserve estimates we currently control 35.8 million tons of coal reserves. A considerable amount of our leased acres has yet to receive any exploratory drilling, thus we anticipate our controlled reserves to grow as we continue drilling. … It is our estimation that our permit will be approved or denied no later than mid-March 2015. Full-scale mine development will not commence until we have a sales commitment. We estimate the costs to develop this mine to be $150 million at full capacity of three million tons annually.”

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.