Rhino Investor Relations Vice President Scott Morris said that production began in late May at the complex, also known as Pennyrile, when the mine slope intersected the No. 6 seam.

Initial development and earthwork at the mine began in Q1 2013, and plans for the mine were first announced in 2007.

As Riverdge gets ready for first shipments, which Morris said will begin from its barge loadout on the Green River “in the next few weeks,” the mine’s preparation plant is running on a limited basis as it continues to be calibrated to process the raw coal being produced.

The new operation currently has 55 workers, he said, and the number of employees that will eventually be employed at the mine will depend upon how much coal Rhino contracts with customers.

“The mine can potentially produce up to 2 million tons per year (tpy) if we can acquire long-term contacts at acceptable prices,” Morris noted. “We currently project that a production level of 2 million tpy would require approximately 200 employees at this location.”

He said that the mine’s ultimate 2 million tpy goal will be achieved via three supersections.

Riveredge/Pennyrile’s initial shipments will primarily be to LG&E (Louisville Gas & Electric), the producer’s current long-term customer, with 800,000 tpy contracted through 2020.

“We also have test shipments scheduled in the coming months with potential interested customers that we believe could lead to additional long-term sales agreements, Morris said.