Knight Hawk Coal permits new Golden Eagle mine in Illinois

Knight Hawk Coal LLC is applying for an NDPES water permit for discharges associated with the new Golden Eagle surface coal mine located four miles southwest of Pinckneyville in Perry County, Illinois.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said in a Jan. 15 notice, with comments being taken until Feb. 17, that it has made a tentative determination to issue the NPDES permit to discharge into waters of the state and has prepared a draft permit and associated fact sheet.

The proposed permitted area covers 297.4 acres of which 283.2 acres are planned for disturbance. The mine will recover the approximately 5.2-foot-thick Herrin #6 seam, which lies 60-80 feet below the surface of the ground, and the approximately 2.7-foot-thick Springfield #5 seam, located about 22 feet below the Herrin #6 seam. The seams, which will produce around 6 million tons of coal in total over the mine’s life, will be extracted utilizing conventional surface mining and highwall mining methods.

“The purpose of the activity is to recover approximately 6 million tons of coal reserves from the permit area,” the agency noted. “The mine will generate approximately $240 million in open market revenue, based on current coal prices, and employ approximately 40 direct and contractor employees with annual payroll and benefits package totaling over $6 million. The opening of the Golden Eagle Mine will bring an influx of revenues to a depressed area of the state where according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (January 2014), approximately 17.1% of the population in Perry County lives below the poverty level and unemployment is 12.3% compared to the Illinois average of 9.4%.

“The Applicant plans to spend in excess of $15 million to develop the site prior to beginning mining operations and approximately the same amount each year during the life of the mine on material, supplies, and services. The mining operation will provide local and state tax revenue as well as provide an affordable and reliable fuel source for the region and surrounding area. Nearly 50% of Illinois’ electricity is generated from coal, the production of Illinois coal helps keep the cost of electricity low and provides affordable energy to Illinois’ citizens and businesses. Social benefits will also occur following completion of the mining, as the Applicant has made a commitment to the State of Illinois to donate the Golden Eagle Mine property to the state at no charge. The property will be donated for the purpose of incorporating the acreage into Pyramid State Park once mining and reclamation activities are completed.”

Knight Hawk Coal is co-owned by several parties, including Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI) and coal operator Jim Bunn. It has five surface mines and one deep mine in Illinois listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, with Golden Eagle not among the listed mines.

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.