Williamson Energy pursues new waste area for Pond Creek coal mine in Illinois

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is taking public comment until Dec. 23 on an application for a Section 401 water quality certification to discharge into the waters of the state associated with a Section 404 permit application received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Williamson Energy LLC unit of Foresight Energy LP has applied for Section 401 water quality certification for impacts to approximately 1,517 linear feet (LF) of ephemeral and intermittent streams, which are unnamed tributaries (UTs) to Pond Creek. The proposed project is located approximately five miles northeast of Johnston City, Williamson County.

The proposed permitted area covers 279 acres, previously utilized for agricultural production and residential activities; current land use is predominately old field and forest habitat. A four-foot-thick compacted clay liner or a geosynthetic liner will be placed below the coarse coal refuse embankment and within the limits of the incised portion of the impoundment.

The purpose of constructing the Dwina Refuse Disposal Facility No. 3 is to provide storage for approximately 15.3 years of coarse coal refuse and approximately 12.0 years of fine coal refuse based on Williamson Energy’s Pond Creek mine production rates. The coal preparation plant, located southeast of the proposed refuse site, separates the non-combustible materials from the mined coal producing clean coal and coarse or fine refuse; fine refuse is blended with water to produce slurry.

The Herrin No. 6 coal seam is proposed to be mined in the areas surrounding the proposed facility. The Pond Creek Mine No. 1, which has been operating since November 2006, is expected to generate 7.2 million tons of useable coal and 4.6 million cubic yards of coal refuse annually. This project will allow for the continued employment of over 200 Pond Creek mine and coal prep plant employees.

Said Foresight’s Nov. 12 quarterly Form 10-Q filing at the SEC: “We control over 3 billion tons of coal reserves, almost all of which exist in three large, contiguous blocks of coal: two in central Illinois and one in southern Illinois. Since our inception, we have invested significantly in capital expenditures to develop what we believe are industry-leading, geologically-similar, low-cost and highly productive mines and related infrastructure. We currently operate under one reportable segment with four underground mining complexes in the Illinois Basin: Williamson, Sugar Camp and Hillsboro, all three of which are longwall operations, and Macoupin, which is currently a continuous miner operation. The Williamson and Hillsboro complexes are each operating with one longwall mining system and Sugar Camp is operating with two longwall mining systems, the second of which emerged from development on June 1, 2014. The timing of additional development is dependent on several factors, including market demand, permitting, access to capital, equipment availability and the committed sales position at our existing mining operations.”

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.