Coal Age

APR 2019

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April 2019 5 leading developments The bankruptcy court has sched- uled a hearing on April 3 to approve the sale of the Mission Assets to Mur- ray Metallurgical Holdings. Murray Energy's acquisition of the Mission Assets provides a significant entrance into the metallurgical coal market, allowing for diversification of its portfolio of quality mining assets, according to the company. Major Extension is Approved for Peabody's Bear Run Mine The largest U.S. surface coal mine east of the Mississippi River, Peabody Midwest Mining's Bear Run mine in Sullivan County, Indiana, is about to have its life extended by another several years, thanks to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Division of Reclamation. In mid-April, DNR Permitting Man- ager Colleen Baughman said she was preparing to approve the company's application for an expansion of 5,286.8 acres at Bear Run after the company application deemed complete. For several years, Bear Run has been the largest surface mine east of the Mississippi and the largest pro- ducer in Indiana, regularly account- ing for about 20% of the annual Indi- ana coal output. In the first quarter of 2019, Bear Run produced 1.7 million tons, ac- cording to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. That keeps the mine on track to equal its 2018 production of 6.8 million tons. Production has decreased a bit over the past couple of years, though, as Bear Run turned out 7.2 million tons in both 2017 and 2016. The mine's thermal coal is mar- keted mainly to electric utilities in the region. Among them is Duke En- ergy Indiana's 618-Megawatt (MW ) Edwardsport integrated gasifica- tion-combined cycle plant in neigh- boring Knox County, Indiana. Baughman also said she approved a five-year extension for BB Mining's Pride's Creek surface mine in Pike County. The extension runs from March 27, 2019, through March 26, 2024. Baughman held a recent informal conference with Sun Energy Group officials to discuss the small Indi- ana-based company's plans for its Flint Hills surface mine in the Dale area of Spencer County. Sun is proposing to mine 312 acres. No production estimates have been re- leased, although the mine most likely would be small, turning out only a cou- ple of hundred tons of coal annually. Sun's last modification response for the proposed permit was received by the state agency on March 18 and is un- der review, Baughman said. A final per- mit decision is expected later this year. US Government Announces Major Investment in Coal The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and National Energy Technology Lab- oratory (NETL) announced invest- ments for the Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, and Trans- formative) initiative, which aims to de- velop coal plants of the future that will provide secure, stable, reliable power with near zero emissions. DOE's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) issued a Notice of Intent for the funding opportunity, which will make available up to ap- proximately $100 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects that fo- cus on developing the components required by Coal FIRST systems. Under the Coal FIRST initiative, DOE is supporting R&D projects that will help develop plants that are capa- ble of flexible operations to meet the needs of the grid; use innovative and cutting-edge components that enable improved efficiency and have near zero emissions with carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) capture; provide resilient pow- er to Americans; are small compared to today's conventional utility-scale coal-fired power plants; and trans- form how coal power plant technolo- gies are designed and manufactured. If needed, the R&D projects may include the development of advanced processes for manufacturing or fabri- cating components. The funding opportunity an- nouncement will be issued in August or September. "The Coal FIRST initiative will inte- grate early-stage R&D on power plant components with currently available technologies into a first-of-a-kind sys- tem," said Assistant Secretary for Fos- sil Energy Steven Winberg. "Through innovative technologies and advanced approaches to design and manufac- turing, the initiative will look beyond today's utility-scale power plant con- cepts (e.g., base-load units) in ways that integrate with the electrical grid in the United States and internationally." A coal train cycles through the Bear Run loadout in Indiana. (Photo: Peabody Energy)

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