Coal Age

DEC 2012

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foresight energy continued Other differences between Williamson, Sugar Camp and Patton are the coal heights. "Williamson has 6 ft of coal, Sugar Camp has 7 ft, and we have 8t ft. We're allowed to run the bigger shearer here and the belt systems are larger: 84-inches on the raw coal stacker, slope and underground mainline belts. Also, we have a 72inch panel belt from the longwall out while they only run 60-inch belts. So we have the capacity to bring 8,500 tph raw out of the mine," said Francisco. Coal Preparation & Shipment Also built in house by Foresight's construction contractor, Coalfield Services, Patton's four-circuit prep plant uses heavy media vessels, heavy media cyclones and spirals to process 2,000 raw tons per hour. The new plant only began to process seven days a week in October. "We run four 12-hr crews there working five days on, and three off with an overlapping maintenance day. We do maintenance at the plant 12 hours a week and run the other six and a half days," said Francisco. When the coal is ready to be shipped, Patton's batch weigh certified load out system is capable of loading 15,000-ton trains in less than four hours. "We've loaded up to three unit trains in one day so far," said Francisco. Crews also built a 27,000-foot rail loop with direct Union Pacific rail service. and then constructed a 7-mile rail spur to the south where they access the Norfolk Southern. The loadout also has truck loading capability. Initial transportation optimization is only one part of the strategy. Once the railroad brings trains to the mine, Patton employs a local contractor to load them. From the mine, the majority of loaded trains are sent to the Foresight's Sitran Ohio River transload terminal in southern Indiana or heads down to the Foresight controlled export terminal in Convent, La., on the Gulf of Mexico. At the moment, Francisco estimates that 60% of the coal is shipped to either of the docks with the rest going to either local or regional customers. With three immediate loading options, plus controlled river access through Foresight Energy's haulage agreement with the Evansville Western Railroad, and Gulf transport through special rates Canadian National Railway rates, no other U.S. coal producer has this many transportation choices further ensuring lowered delivered costs to customers. Learning to Operate Lean, but not at all Mean Francisco, similar to much of Foresight's core longwall operators, is from Appalachia. An eastern Kentucky native and proud U.K. grad, he is a veteran of the "old style" Massey Energy and a former executive with Magnum Coal. Francisco and several handpicked members of the crew that he brought here with him were all trained in the highly competitive, but constrained Central Appalachian coalfields. "It's been challenging for myself and the management staff that I brought because we've never seen these kinds of volumes. In West Virginia, we had mine rail operations, hard cutting conditions, high reject, lots of gas, bad water, bad roof, undulation, and often had to contend with Raw and clean coal sit outside the new preparation plant and load out waiting for the next train to come. 36 the interaction between over-mining and under-mining. But today, we're sitting here with nothing above us and nothing below us. We have no water problems, no gas problems, and an easily accessible reserve that we can drive into. It's an incredible opportunity," said Francisco. But Foresight still designed its operations to be low cost, with a lean and committed workforce capable of multitasking on various fronts. "As we put this mineā€”and the entire fleet together, we were definitely incorporating the lessons learned from the cyclical marketplace in the East where, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the coal market was in a very deep trough like it's in right now. Many of us found ourselves in high cost situations when that market dipped. We had to make some hard choices. We had to lay off people, cut wages and benefits. Today, we have positioned ourselves here to be the lowest cost producer every day and we do that. Together, even though market has dipped, the Foresight operations can still be the lowest cost producers in the region. All of us, and Chris Cline in particular, already had that mind set when we came out here. You don't wait. You don't get fat when the coal market's $300/ton for metallurgical coal, or $80/ton in the Illinois Basin. You stay lean all the time. Cline has built this company on the assumption that it will be the lowest cost producer, period," said Francisco. When you visit a Foresight mine, the first thing that strikes you is the lack of people running around the offices. Almost everyone is underground. "When I say I'll have 175 employees at full stroke here that includes the plant, everyone underground, accounting, security and our cleaning service. Every one. I just came up from the longwall and wouldn't be here right now if Coal Age hadn't been coming," he said. Underground, Francisco runs a pretty tight ship too. "I don't have belt people because my belts don't spill. You engineer them to hold the capacity that you're trying to put on them. They are remotely monitored via video. We also have no outby people as it relates to belts. We have a fireboss, one per shift, who firebosses the entire mine. How do we maintain the outby? I have 20-ton bulk rock dusters that can put down its load in about 30 minutes and return for another load. I can feed them and load them in three minutes. They're being pulled by a Fletcher diesel December 2012

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