Coal Age

OCT-NOV 2017

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October/November 2017 15 u.s. prep plant census 2017 U.S. Prep Plant Census 2017 Interest in processing projects returns by steve fiscor, editor-in-chief The worst may have passed for the coal processing sector. The good news is that two new plants were added to the U.S. Prep Plant Census in 2017. Another encourag- ing sign is that the engineering firms that design and build these plants have noticed a renewed interest in projects. The recent shake-out in the coal business led to a few more plants being listed as idle this year, while a few older idled plants were removed after it was confirmed that they were scrapped. The total number of U.S. prep plants dropped from 252 to 248 and the num- ber of idled plants increased from 59 to 61. The census lists 17 anthracite plants in Pennsylvania. The total number of operating plants washing bituminous coal has now dropped to 170. West Virgin- ia remains the leader with 70 plants (29% are idle), followed by Kentucky (52, 38% idle), and Pennsylvania (22 bituminous and two idle). Virginia and Ohio have 19 and 18 prep plants, respectively, with only a few idle. The biggest single ownership change recorded in the 2017 U.S. Prep Plant Cen- sus would be the recent transfer of idled properties from Alpha Natural Resources to Lexington Coal. In West Virginia, the Lexington Coal name emerges for the first time with six listings. Revelation Energy purchased Lone Mountain Processing in Virginia from Arch Coal earlier this year. Moving through the states, Warrior Met Coal's North River plant in Alabama, which had been listed as idle for many years, was removed. In Illinois, Ameri- can Coal Co.'s Galatia plant is now list- ed as idle (See News, p. 10). With a raw feed capacity of 3,000 tons per hour (tph), the Galatia prep plant is one of America's largest prep plants. Pinnacle Processing's Pevler prep plant in Ken- tucky has been idled. The Ohio Valley prep plant in Ohio and the High Quality (Maple Creek) and Keystone plants in Pennsylvania have been torn down and removed from the census. 2 New Plants Start in 2017 Two new preparation plants were com- missioned in 2017: Ramaco Resources' Elk Creek plant and JSW Steel's Caretta prep plant. Both are in West Virginia. Construc- tion on the Elk Creek plant began in Octo- ber 2016 and it was commissioned during November 2017. "Elk Creek is the newest prep plant in the U.S.," said Dennis Phillips, president, Raw Resources Group, the firm that designed and constructed the Elk Creek plant. "We have our own construction and electrical group and can do everything as far as building a plant except for the silos and some of the specialty plant equipment." Elk Creek will produce both metal- lurgical and steam coal, but mostly met coal, Phillips explained. It has a raw feed capacity of 700 tph. For primary and inter- mediate separation, the plant uses a single large-diameter (48-inch), heavy-media cy- clone. It uses spirals and froth flotation to recover fine coal. The plant was commissioned in early November. "The process went well," Phil- lips said. "We had the usual balancing and water issues, but all the bugs were quickly worked out. Once we started running coal, the whole process went really smoothly." The other plant that was commis- sioned this year was JSW Steel's Caretta prep plant. "Construction on the Caretta prep plant actually began three years ago, but it didn't start up until April of this year," said Bob Hollis, president of the Daniels Co., the firm that designed and built the plant. Located in McDowell County, West Virginia, the 500-tph Caretta plant provides metallurgical coal for JSW's steel mills. At a recent meeting of the Coal Prep Society of America in Lexington, Ken- tucky, Hollis and several other engineers noted a renewed interest in processing projects. "We are certainly starting to see an upswing in this segment," Hollis said. "A number of coal operators are serious- ly considering plans for new preparation plants. There is still some concern about the market. They haven't decided to invest yet, but we are getting inquiries on a week- ly basis about building new plants." The current situation in the coal ben- eficiation sector can best be described as guarded optimism. In the next few years, several of the idled plants will likely be re- stored and new ones will be commissioned. The general consensus was that most of these new plants (60:40) would serve the met market and they will likely have a raw feed capacity of 500 tph to 600 tph. This is welcomed news for an industry that has suffered through several years of decline. Ramaco Resources' Elk Creek prep plant is America's newest coal washing facility.

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