Coal Age

FEB 2012

Coal Age Magazine - For more than 100 years, Coal Age has been the magazine that readers can trust for guidance and insight on this important industry.

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u.s. longwall census Longwall Population Grows Amid Further M&A Activity BY STEVE FISCOR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Cline Resources reorganized its Illinois Basin coal mines and ancillary assets as Foresight Energy. Foresight Energy owns Mach Mining, which operates the most productive longwall mine in the U.S. MClass Mining operates the Sugar Camp mine, which has been designed to accom- modate four longwalls. The mine began operating its first longwall last year. With 13 faces, West Virginia remains the longwall leader, followed by Pennsylvania (7), Alabama (6), and Utah (5). Foresight Energy's Sugar Camp mine began longwall production and could become a major longwall complex in the Illinois Basin. Even though the ownership in some cas- es may have changed, the fleet of U.S. longwalls remained intact and two new longwall mines, Tunnel Ridge and Sugar Camp, were added to the list this year. The total number of longwall mines, according to Coal Age's annual U.S. long- wall census now stands at 43 and, with five mines operating two faces, the total number of faces is 48. Two of the mines are operating in soft rock in Wyoming. The rest are cutting coal using the most productive underground technique, longwall mining. The other major change that readers will note on the census is the emergence of the Caterpillar brand name. Last year, Caterpillar entered the underground coal business in a big way when it acquired Bucyrus. Seeing the Cat brand in the longwall census may seem odd, but no more peculiar than when the Bucyrus name first appeared after the company acquired Deutsche Bergbau Technik 22 (DBT). As far as equipment, this was a change in name only. The industry is still waiting to see which operator will be the first to purchase major pieces of yellow longwall equipment. CONSOL Energy remains the leading U.S. longwall producer with 11 faces. Arch Coal and Murray Energy operate five long- wall mines. Last year, Alpha Natural Resources acquired Massey Energy and the Revolution longwall mine in West Virginia. Likewise, Walter Energy acquired the North River mine in Alabama from Chevron Mining. Alpha Natural Resources and Walter Energy each have one mine operating two longwall faces. Both com- panies operate three longwall mines and four longwall faces. Alliance Resource Partners commis- sioned the Tunnel Ridge longwall mine in West Virginia. Tunnel Ridge is the company's second longwall. It also oper- ates the Mountain View mine in West Virginia. Looking at the numbers, the average U.S. longwall mine has a cutting height of 94 inches, a panel width (or face length) of 1,086 ft, and a panel length of 10,321 ft. Last year, those numbers were 88 inches, 1,055 ft and 10,724 ft respectively. A total of 17 longwalls operate in the Pittsburgh No. 8 seam. The maximum overburden on average reaches 1,206 ft. Except for a few mines in Utah, most are developed with 3- entry gates. Using a 1,734-hp double- drum, ranging-arm shearer, they take a 38-inch cut. The average yield setting on the shield is 988 tons. Most (41 faces) are high voltage (4,160 volts). As far as extremes, the deepest longwall mine is the West Ridge mine in Utah, operating at a depth of 3,000 ft. CONSOL Energy's Bailey Enlow Fork Complex oper- ates the longest faces, four 1,500-ft faces. At 21,500 ft, Signal Peak Energy's Bull Mountain mine has the longest panel. Arch Coal's West Elk and SUFCO mines are operating 2,805-hp shearers. The Year in Review During October, Blue Mountain Energy's Deserado mine was recognized by the Colorado Mining Association (CMA) for achieving a historic safety milestone, completing 365 days without a lost time accident. During the one-year period, an February 2012 T wo new installations and a new supplier of longwall mining , Caterpillar , highlight the changing landscape

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