By this fall, a second continuous miner unit is scheduled to be in full production at Casselman, owned by Wilson Creek Energy, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Corsa. The expansion is expected to boost the mine’s annual output by about 250,000 tons. Casselman produced 248,522 tons in 2013 and 109,539 tons in the first half of 2014.
Corsa is buying PBS for $140 million, far less than the $1.3 billion Severstal paid for the southwestern Pennsylvania coal producer in 2008.
Keith Dyke, Corsa’s president, said the Casselman expansion will feature the addition of a second production unit using a continuous miner haulage system. A Wilson Creek preparation plant located on a CSX rail line in Somerset County, Maryland, can process up to 400 tons of coal an hour.
Dyke said Corsa is confident the currently tepid demand for met coal will rebound as steelmakers ramp up production, although he declined to predict when the recovery will occur. When it arrives, Corsa will be ready to capitalize because it is a low-cost producer, he said. The close proximity of PBS assets and infrastructure to Corsa’s existing Pennsylvania operations gives Corsa good synergy and marketing opportunities.
PBS, which had placed plans for its new A Seam met coal underground mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, on hold earlier this year, had targeted total production of 1 million to 1.5 million tons in 2014.
With the addition of PBS, Corsa is expected to produce about 2.7 million tons this year, according to Dyke. Prior to the sale, Corsa had committed sales for the 1.3 million tons of met and thermal coal that its Pennsylvania mines are expected to turn out in 2014.
“Adding the PBS metallurgical coal properties improves Corsa’s ability to grow production, lower costs, and better serve our customers domestically and internationally,” Dyke said.
Still to be determined is whether Corsa eventually will reopen four surface and underground mines idled by PBS two years ago. In addition to Wilson Creek, Corsa owns the Kopper Glo underground and surface thermal coal mines in Central Appalachia. The mines produced a combined 340,000 tons in the first half of 2014.
The sale is expected to be complete by mid-August. It was still pending at press time.