Coal Age

OCT-NOV 2017

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Page 11 of 51

10 October/November 2017 news continued steam coal from Foresight Energy's Sugar Camp longwall mine near Akin in Franklin County, Illinois, and Copper Glo Mining's unde- ground mine in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Foresight is supply- ing 1.365 million tons to Lakeland over the next three years while Copper Glo is sending 150,000 tons to the municipality this year. The high-sulfur coal is railed hundreds of miles to McIntosh, a single-unit plant in commercial operation since 1982. The baseload plant's burn improved once hotter, drier weath- er descended upon the Lakeland area this summer. Then came Irma. When the powerful hurricane hit Florida as a Category 3 storm on September 10, electricity was disrupted across the state and electric systems were damaged and knocked out of service. In some situations, Lakeland's for example, the above-ground coal stockpile was literally under water for days. Lakeland Electric finally returned McIntosh to service in late September after the coal had been dried out, according to Tory Bombard, fuels manager for the municipality. In early October, the plant was running normally. At present, Lakeland, a city of 100,000 in central Florida, has no plans to retire McIntosh or convert the plant to natural gas. Production Comes to a Halt at Galatia Murray Energy Corp.'s (MEC) once-bustling Galatia underground coal mining complex in Saline County, Illinois, is less busy these days after coal production essentially ceased this summer at the New Future mine, coming on the heels of a similar move at its sis- ter New Era operation. State records show New Future produced only about 29,000 tons of steam coal in August, with most, if not all, coming from raw, above-ground coal that was run through the Ga- latia processing plant. According to state mining officials, New Fu- ture had 32 full-time employees at the end of August. More recent production and staffing figures were not available by early October. American Coal Co., a subsidiary of Ohio-based MEC, has op- erated the Galatia mines since it was incorporated in 1998. The Galatia asset was acquired by MEC from Kerr-McGee Coal Corp., which opened the first deep mine on the property just outside the community of Galatia in the early 1980s. Galatia's official status is uncertain as Gary Broadbent, MEC senior corporate counsel and director of investor and media rela- tions, declined to comment when asked if New Future had closed. However, the company said in a federal WARN Act notice in April that nearly 300 New Future miners would be laid off later in the year. That number comprised most of the remaining work force at New Future, the successor mine at Galatia after New Era was shut earlier this year. New Future was seen as the lower-cost and more efficient of the two Galatia mines. But the company said in a prior statement about the April layoff that New Future had encountered "adverse mining conditions" and that the company was "reviewing all of its current options with respect to this operation." MEC now has ownership control of St. Louis-based Foresight Energy, owner of four mines including three longwall operations in Illinois. Murray Energy has been transferring high-cost pro- duction to the Foresight mines. That apparently is what MEC has done with respect to the nearly 3 million tons of high-sulfur steam coal that AmCoal was

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