Peabody permits changes at Gateway mine site in Illinois

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is taking comment until Feb. 6 on a draft NPDES water permit approval that would allow several changes at the surface facilities of Peabody Coulterville Mining LLC‘s Gateway mine in Randolph County.

Mine operations result in the discharge of alkaline mine drainage. Public comments are invited on various proposed modifications incorporated into this renewal, including:

  • Modifications and/or additions to surface facilities including additional coal stockpile and coal loadout, removal of thickener pond, construction of pole building and soil stockpiles.
  • Incorporation of eight parcels of additional area totaling 68.68 acres under Incidental Boundary Revisions (IBR’s).
  • Incorporate additional permit area for the Refuse Cell 5 located on 100 acres and identified as OMM Permit No. 426.
  • Incorporation of previously issued State Operating permits which approved utilization of water treatment plant lime sludge for neutralization of potentially acidic coal refuse.
  • Incorporation of previously issued State Operating permits which approved disposal of coal combustion waste in conjunction with coal refuse disposal.
  • Additional approvals for utilization of water treatment plant lime sludge for neutralization of potentially acidic coal refuse and sewage treatment plant sludge as a soil amendment.
  • Permit transfer from Coulterville Coal Co. LLC–Gateway Mine to Peabody Coulterville Mining LLC–Gateway Mine.

Said an Illinois EPA notice: “According to information given in a document dated March 28, 2012 entitled Peabody Coulterville Mining LLC–Gateway Mine – Revised Antidegradation Analyses of Benefits and Alternatives to Lessen Water Quality Impact, continued operation of the existing mine will continue to provide jobs for 250 employees with an annual payroll of approximately $29.4 million. In addition, other local businesses would also benefit from the wealth created by the mine. Local and state taxes are $8.4 million as a result of the mine. Randolph County currently has an unemployment rate of 9.2%. In 2008, 14.4% of county residents were living below the poverty level.”

The Jan. 7 notice added: “We tentatively find that the proposed activity will result in the attainment of water quality standards; that all existing uses of the receiving stream will be maintained; that all technically and economically reasonable measures to avoid or minimize the extent of the proposed increase in pollutant loading have been incorporated into the proposed activity; and that this activity will benefit the community at large by providing jobs for 250 employees and local and regional economic development. Comments received during the NPDES permit public notice period will be evaluated before a final decision is made by the Agency.”

Peabody Coulterville is a unit of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer. The Gateway underground operation traditionally ships coal to customers like Northern Indiana Public Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The nearby Gateway North deep mine is being developed to eventually replace Gateway, but will use Gateway’s existing surface facilities. U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows Gateway North as currently “nonproducing,” while Gateway produced 1.9 million tons in the first three quarters of 2014.

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.