Coal Age

DEC 2012

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foresight energy Patton Rolls into Illinois The newest longwall mine in Foresight Energy's fleet comes online BY LEE BUCHSBAUM, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER It takes teamwork: Foresight's new Patton longwall mine is quickly becoming one of the nation's most productive operations. Standing left to right: Aaron Moore, longwall electrician; Sammy Browning, mine superintendent, Dwayne Francisco, president; Kyle Baker, longwall foreman; and Derek Baker, shearer operator. Kneeling left to right: Mark Cornell, vice-president, Patton; and Casey Kane, shearer operator. On August 14, Foresight Energy's Deer Run mine, operated by Patton Mining, flipped a switch and turned the mine's massive longwall on commencing operations. Since then it has rapidly become one of the top producing mines in both the Illinois Basin and the nation. Like its two sister longwall mines, Sugar Camp's MC No. 1 and Mach Mining's Pond Creek operation to the south and the conventional Shay mine to the west, Patton's small workforce, aided by cutting edge technology, uses some of the most advanced hardware to safely and efficiently churn out a tremendous volume of coal. Already producing more than 600,000 clean tons a month by the end of September, as Patton fully matures it will be capable of producing more than 9 million tons a year if the market demand is there. In fact, with a reserve base of approximately 900 million tons, the mine is designed to operate up to three longwalls at a time. Even more impressive 32 is the built in cost structure, dedication to safety and spirit of the new workforce. When Coal Age previously visited Patton for the December 2010 issue, the mine's first crews were still driving the slope after finally intersecting with the 9ft thick Herrin No. 6 coal seam, the prep plant's structural supports were being welded together, and Mine President Dwayne Francisco's office was at the back end of a construction trailer. The last of three greenfield longwall operations and just one component in the $1.8 billion Illinois Basin investment made by Foresight Energy, today the mine is not only up and running, but getting ready to vie with sister Foresight Illinois Basin mines for the title of most productive longwall operation nationwide, particularly as measured by tons per man hour. During the three-year build-out period beginning in May 2009, Patton did most of the construction work in house. "We drove our own slope, reaching the bottom in late 2010. Since then, we've had very good success driving the gateroads. We finished those in late July and started the shearer for the first time on August 4. All of our belts, conveyors and components, including the 27,000 ft rail loop are now complete. We are in full operation," said Francisco, one of the proud designers of the mine operation and layout. On this visit in October 2012, Patton was marking two months of longwall operation. The longwall was averaging 65-ft a day while being operated by new green crews, many of whom had never even seen a longwall in operation prior to being hired. They also had a miner section running two development shifts per day, moving belt and power six days per week as well. Staffing-wise, by mid-October, Patton was up to about 144 employees with a target workforce of 175 when another development unit comes December 2012

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