Plum Energy will construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant for Alpha Natural Resources on property adjacent to Alpha Coal West’s Eagle Butte mine, near Gillette, Wyo. The Plum Energy facility will supply LNG for the mine’s haul trucks, producing cost efficiencies and fuel savings for its mining operations. Natural gas becomes LNG when the gas is cooled to more than 260°F below zero and the volume becomes 1/600th of the gaseous form, turning the gas into a liquid fuel. LNG is a clean, efficient fuel and is extremely attractive from a price point when compared to the cost of conventional diesel fuel. Alpha Coal West began testing LNG technologies developed by GFS Corp. for haul trucks at the Belle Ayr mine in 2012, beginning a pilot program for the first LNG-powered mine haul trucks. After 18 months of daily operation, Alpha Coal West decided to proceed with the conversion to LNG of its 16 Cat 793 haul trucks at Eagle Butte. The mine expects to complete the conversion by the end of 2014.
Plum Energy’s LNG plant at the Eagle Butte mine, scheduled to come online in March 2015, will be able to produce 28,500 gallons of LNG a day. In addition, Plum Energy has designed an LNG refueling station that will be constructed on-site at Eagle Butte, which will be capable of refueling eight trucks simultaneously. “This project not only will reduce fuel costs for Alpha Coal West, but will also help solidify supply lines for other LNG users in the Powder River Basin,” said Kirt Montague, CEO of Plum Energy.
“The construction of the LNG plant fits with ongoing efforts to control costs,” said Paul Vining, president, Alpha Natural Resources. “Switching the Alpha Coal West fleet to the combined use of LNG and diesel will also lead to more efficient operation and longer engine life for the trucks.” Alpha Coal West’s demand for LNG is expected to be about 6,400 gallons a day to fuel its trucks. As the plant grows, excess product can be sold to other companies in the area as they convert their equipment to LNG.