Alpha pursues permit on new waste area at Emerald longwall mine in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking comment until June 4 on an application by the Emerald Coal Resources LP of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) for a Section 404 Clean Water Act application for a new waste area at the Emerald longwall mine.

The proposed project is located due south of two existing refuse areas, about 1.5 miles southwest of the City of Waynesburg in Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. The applicant proposes to construct the Emerald Refuse Area No. 3; a new combined coarse coal refuse and slurry impoundment. This new refuse area is being proposed to accommodate the combined refuse from Emerald’s existing mine operations.

Components of this project include: development of the refuse area access roads, installation of sediment traps/basins, construction of the staged refuse area embankment and associated conveyors and facilities. This proposed new combined coarse coal refuse and slurry impoundment will be approximately 250 acres in size and will be located adjacent to and south of the existing Emerald Mine Coal Refuse Disposal Area No. 2.

The projected unavoidable permanent impacts to Waters of the United States as a result of this proposed project will total 14,035 linear feet of stream and 0.448 acres of wetland. Permanent stream impacts will include 6,941 linear feet (LF) of perennial, 6,150 LF of intermittent and 944 LF of ephemeral stream. Permanent wetlands impacts will total 0.448 acres of jurisdictional palustrine emergent (PEM) wetland. All stream impacts will occur in unnamed tributaries of Smith Creek (a tributary of the South Fork of Tenmile Creek).

Said Alpha’s Feb. 26 annual Form 10-K report about its two big mines in this this region: “At our Cumberland and Emerald mining complexes, coal is mined primarily by using longwall mining systems supported by continuous miners. Both mines operate in the Pittsburgh No. 8 Seam, the dominant coal-producing seam in the region, which is six to eight feet thick in the mines. The mines sell high Btu, high sulfur steam coal primarily to eastern utilities. Cumberland shipped 7.4 million tons of coal in 2014. All of the coal at Cumberland is processed through a preparation plant before being loaded onto Cumberland’s owned and operated railroad for transportation to the Monongahela River dock site. At the dock site, coal is then loaded into barges for transportation to river-served utilities or to other docks for subsequent rail shipment to non-river-served utilities. The mine can also ship a portion of its production by truck. Emerald shipped 3.6 million tons of coal in 2014. During 2014, Emerald moved its longwall to the final district within its life-of-mine plan. We expect Emerald to cease mining activities by the end of 2015. All of Emerald’s coal is processed through a preparation plant before being loaded into unit trains operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway or CSX Transportation. The mine also has the option to ship a portion of its coal by truck.”

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.