Last month at the Longwall USA Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Coal Age presented the Top Performer Awards to four U.S. longwall mines. The awards winners were selected based on the mine’s overall safety performance during the intervening years (2017 and 2018 in this case), along with average raw longwall production per day and the mine’s total production. Using data from the U.S. Longwall Census published in the January-February 2019 edition of Coal Age, all the U.S. longwall mines were subdivided into three categories by cutting height: high (96 inches and greater), medium (72 to 95 inches), and low (71 inches and less).
As far as safety is concerned, the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) average incident rate for underground coal mines was 3.13 and 3.70 for 2018 and 2017, respectively. All of the winners were below the industry average and some of the winners were way below the industry average. The four winners all produced more than 4.8 million tons per year (tpy) and averaged more than 31,800 raw tpd. Some of them produced considerably more than that.
The winner in the high category was Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountains mine in Montana. Signal Peak produced 7.57 million tons and 5.88 million tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an average daily raw production of more than 32,400 tons and 31,800 tons in 2018 and 2017. Most importantly, however, they had an MSHA incident rate of 0.66 and 0 in 2018 and 2017. Signal Peak produced 5.88 million tons in 2017 and the operation was exception free. Congratulations to Signal Peak.
For the low category, the winner was American Energy’s Century mine in Ohio. The Century mine produced 4.79 million tons and 5.68 million tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an average daily raw production rate of more than 38,010 tons and 39,700 tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an MSHA incident rate of 2.89 and 1.86. Congratulations to the Century mine.
The competition was very close in the medium range, so this year Coal Age presented to both Tunnel Ridge and Sugar Camp mines.
Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge mine in West Virginia produced 6.8 million tons and 6.99 million tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an average raw daily production rate of 47,600 tons and 50,200 tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an MSHA incident rate of 1.62 and 0.62. Congratulations to Tunnel Ridge.
Foresight Energy’s Sugar Camp mine in Illinois produced 14.46 million tons and 12.81 million tons in 2018 and 2017. They had an average daily raw production rate of more than 50,000 tons and 45,700 tons. Sugar Camp operates two longwalls and the other face had an average daily production rate of more than 45,600 tons. They had an MSHA incidence rate of 1.03 and 2.89. Congratulations to the Sugar Camp mine.
Longwall USA Top Performer winner (High-seam Height Division): Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountains mine (above from the left): Marko Pressler, shift foreman; and Kyle Leger, shift foreman. Longwall USA Top Performer winner (Low-seam Height Division): American Energy Corp.’s Century mine (above from the left): Dan Butler Jr., longwall maintenance coordinator; John Dagan, longwall assistant maintenance coordinator; Jeff Koontz, longwall production coordinator; Brandon Muncy, assistant general mine foreman; Eric Lipinski, director of longwalls, Murray Energy Corp.; and Chris King, director of longwall maintenance for Murray Energy Corp.
Longwall USA Top Performer co-winner (Medium-seam Height Division): Foresight Energy Sugar Camp mine (above from the left): Jasen Taylor, general manager; Matt Lee, longwall coordinator; Brandon Parson, general manager; and Chris England, superintendent. Longwall USA Top Performer co-winner (Medium-seam Height Division): Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge mine (above from the left): Josh Duncan, longwall coordinator; Brent Shipley, longwall maintenance coordinator; Ed Lee, longwall setup foreman; and Nick Atwell, assistant longwall coordinator.