Indiana Utilities See Steam Coal Supplies Falling

Steam coal inventories were falling for most Indiana electric utilities at the start of summer, suggesting a few months of hot, steamy weather — typical for the region — could induce them back into the market, at least for spot supplies, before the onset of winter.
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. was not experiencing any coal supply issues due to the financial struggles of some coal producers, Michael Eckert, senior utility analyst for the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), told Indiana regulators in late June.

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Berwind Mine Permit is Issued

Ramaco recently announced it received the final reclamation and mine permit for its Berwind mine from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Management anticipated preproduction development work at Berwind to be initiated on July 5, with initial development production anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Berwind property on the border of West Virginia and Virginia consists of approximately 31,200 acres of controlled mineral. The property consists of 72 million tons of recoverable low-vol met coal reserves with advantaged coal thickness.

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Deer Run Could Restart Production Before Year End

Foresight Energy is in the process of reopening its long-idled Deer Run longwall mine in southern Illinois and the steam coal operation could resume production before the end of 2017. A spokesman for the St. Louis-based company acknowledged in June that Foresight is taking the steps necessary to begin mining coal at Deer Run again. The mine, also known as Hillsboro, is located near the community of Hillsboro in Montgomery County, Illinois.

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Beech Creek Coal Mine Resumes Production

Southern Coal Corp.’s Beech Creek Coal subsidiary is reopening a surface mine near Phelps in Pike County, Kentucky, to produce metallurgical coal, another sign that a nascent recovery may be coming to the Central Appalachian coalfield.

According to Dustin Deane, associate counsel for the James C. Justice Cos. of Roanoke, Virginia, the mine was expected to resume producing coal around July 15. It had been idled for about a year because of the soft coal market.

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ILB Producers Expanding, Opening New Facilities

Some of the largest steam coal producers in the high-sulfur Illinois Basin (ILB) are seeking to extend existing mines or open new operations as Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky attempt to claw back production lost over the last few years.

ILB output in mid-June was up 17% year-over-year despite several major mines in the region remaining idle. Among them was Foresight Energy’s Deer Run longwall mine near Hillsboro, Illinois. It largely has been inactive since March 26, 2015, when elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected. Those readings have since dropped and the St. Louis-based company is in the process of reopening the mine.

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