Coal Age

JAN-FEB 2017

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Page 7 of 51

6 January-February 2017 news continued not publicly released a mine construction/in-production date for the new mine. Robindale Energy's LCT Energy subsidiary is expected to be- gin producing coal later this year at its Maple Springs mine also in Somerset County. Production could start as soon as June with the mine eventually ramping up to around 500,000 tons annually. At that rate, Maple Springs has sufficient met coal reserves to last for 15 years, according to Gil Widenhofer, a Robindale vice president. Corsa plans to focus more on met coal production and sales this year, in part through its new Acosta mine in Somerset County that is scheduled to begin production in the second quarter. The mine is projected to produce about 375,000 tons of coal a year for multiple years. Corsa also intends to restart the Shade Creek prep plant and loadout facility on the Norfolk Southern rail line in Somerset County. Finally, privately owned Rosebud, which mines in both Pennsyl- vania and Ohio, is developing the Cresson mine in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Rosebud assumed a decade-old permit for the mine after acquiring Amfire Mining LLC of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in a $86 million deal in December 2014. Amfire received the permit from DEP in December 2006 but never activated it. The permit was trans- ferred to Rosebud in September 2015. Cresson's targeted output is unclear as Rosebud officials declined to publicly discuss the mine and a DEP spokeswoman said she did not know the answer. US Mining Deaths Drop to New Low in 2016 The number of mining deaths in 2016 is the lowest ever record- ed, at 26, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration. This is down from 29 in 2015. It is also only the second year that mining deaths dropped below 30. Currently, approximately 330,000 miners work in more than 13,000 U.S. mines. Nine of the 26 fatalities occurred in coal mines: four in West Virginia, two in Kentucky, and one each in Alabama, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The leading causes of death were powered haulage and machinery, which accounted for six. In 2015, coal mining deaths fell to 12, which was the previous historic low. A total of 17 deaths were reported in metal and nonmetal mines in 2016. Mississippi and Texas led with two, followed by one each in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. The leading cause of death in these mines was machinery acci- dents, at four, followed by powered haulage, at three. None of the 16 deaths occurred in underground mining operations. In 2015, 17 miners died in the metal and nonmetal sector. "While these deaths show that more needs to be done to protect our nation's miners, we have reached a new era in mine safety in the past few years," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Each year since 2009, injury rates have dropped, and the number of mining deaths and fatal- ity rates were less than in all prior years in history except in 2010, when the Upper Big Branch mine disaster occurred." MSHA has encouraged mine operators to put effective safety and health programs in place that address the specific conditions and hazards; conduct thorough examinations of the workplace to assure that the conditions and hazards leading to deaths and in- juries are identified and fixed before they pose a danger to miners; volve a first-stage mine that would produce 2 million metric tons per year (mtpy) of coal, increasing to 5 or 10 million mtpy after the first two years. A new train loader would be built to connect to the existing north coast freight and passenger line, where coal would be taken to the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal south of Mackay for export. About 200 workers would be needed to build the project and between 250 and 500 will be needed to run it. India Postpones Coal Exports Four months after entering international markets, India's plans for exporting coal is close to a dead end. Even a modest target of shipping out 10 million metric tons (mt) of coal as a starter, was failing to make any headway and India's Ministry of Coal was veering around to the view that pushing for coal exports from the country was neither viable nor prudent under current domestic market dynamics. In August 2016, India commenced planning to ship coal starting with neighboring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh and step up volume shipments as country's largest miner, Coal India Ltd. (CIL), gained a toehold in international coal trading markets. But even at the early stages of such plans, several prospective buyers like Bangladesh made it clear during preliminary negotiations that they were not inter- ested in contracting for low grade, high ash content coal from India. While most buyers among neighboring countries expressed interest in only high grade low ash content coal, CIL was unable to meet such de- mand from overseas buyers without risking demand for a similar grade of coal from domestic buyers since Indian availability of high grade coal was low in any case, senior officials in the ministry pointed out. The change in thinking of the Ministry of Coal on pushing for coal exports was also prompted by a recent forecast that the current glut of coal in domestic market could be a very short-term trend. A section of government policy makers expressed their views that in the case of any sudden revival of demand for the dry fuel from the domestic thermal power sector, there could be sharp drawdown on present surplus, and even with higher production, there would be risks to meeting commitments in international markets. Among the triggers that the glut might be easing was the fact that pithead stocks with CIL was down 39 million mt in November, from 53.9 million mt in April. At the same time, coal stocks with thermal power plants, too, were on a downward curve and an indica- tion that their off-take from the mines would rise over the next few months. Government data indicated that in November coal stocks with thermal power plants were down at 19-million mt against an estimated demand of 30-million mt, which would prompt these pow- er plants to make fresh off-takes from CIL. Coal of Africa Receives Key Approvals Coal of Africa Ltd. (CoAL) reported that its Makhado project's 26-month construction phase is expected to begin as soon as all regulatory approvals are in place. "This delayed startup reflects the complex environment in which South African mining companies op- erate," said David Brown, CEO, CoAL. "The company remains com- mitted to ensuring that the requisite processes are completed as efficiently as possible." Once construction is complete, a further four-month ramp-up phase will result in the production of 5.5 million metric tons per year (mtpy). Last year, the company was granted a 20-year Integrat- ed Water Use License (IWUL) for the Makhado project. Following an appeal to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) submitted by the Vhembe Mineral Resources Forum and other parties, the IWUL Continued from p. 5... Continued on p. 7...

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