Signal Peak Energy permits new waste area for Montana coal mine

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Jan. 23 went out for comment on its intent to approve an air permit for Signal Peak Energy LLC (SPE), the operator of the Bull Mountain longwall mine in Musselshell County.

In November 2014, the department received an application for modification of SPE’s air quality permit for creating a new waste disposal area identified as WDA2. The current waste disposal area (WDA1) is nearing the end of its design capacity. The proposed maximum disturbance area for WDA2 and associated facilities is approximately 376 acres.

Additionally, in December 2014, SPE requested that an administrative amendment be combined with the November 2014 request. The administrative amendment requests a change to allow up to 150,000 tons of material to be shipped via over-the-road semitrucks.

The two requests are being combined into a single permit action.

The Bull Mountain Mine is permitted to produce 15 million tons of raw coal per year. The primary facilities include the underground mine, a coal preparation plant, fixed conveyor systems, storage systems, and a rail loadout. A conveyor belt is used to transfer the Run Of Mine (ROM) coal to a stockpile outside of the mine portal. Surface storage facilities include stockpiles of ROM coal, clean coal, and reject material from the wash plant. Material is moved from inside the mine to the ROM stockpile on a high capacity belt conveyor. Other conveyors are used to transport coal from the ROM pile to the coal cleaning facility and from there to the clean coal piles. The primary facility rejects about 20% of the raw coal stream. These coal processing wastes and other mine development wastes are permanently disposed of in the Waste Disposal Area (WDA1 or WDA2) located 1.4 miles northeast of the wash plant.

U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration data shows that the mine produced 7.9 million tons in 2014, down from 8.7 million tons in 2013.

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.