Coronado Coal, a producer of metallurgical coal in Australia and Appalachia, has plans to build an underground coal mine, the Mon Valley mine in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a coal preparation plant, and a rail and barge loading facility in Forward Township. Representatives from Coronado made a presentation to the Forward Township Board of Supervisors’ planning commission on Wednesday and was met with opposition. The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend the Forward’s board of supervisors reject Coronado’s plan.

Coronado approached the township over a zoning ordinance that restricts mineral development in non-industrial zones. A large portion of Coronado’s land is zoned for conservation and for residential development. The coal company asked the township to change its zoning ordinance by creating a coal mining overlay district, whose dimensions coincide with Coronado’s property.

In materials submitted to Forward Township in February 2020, the company described an operation that would produce around 2 million tons of coal each year. The complex would cost around $250 million to develop, according to Jack Pauley, Coronado’s vice president of human resources.

Work on the Mon Valley mine was paused during the first half of this year as Coronado focused on cutting costs.

The company has secured one environmental permit for the refuse pile.

In a newsletter sent out by the Forward Township Board of Supervisors, it said, “If only 15 people show up at the meeting on August 18, Coronado Coal will likely get the impression the residents of Forward Township do not care much one way or the other about the proposed coal mine. They might conclude the residents of Forward Township do not mind paying for Mine Subsidence Insurance every year for the next 40 years. They might conclude that the residents of Forward Township do not mind having Township streams permanently polluted.”

It continued that if 60 people showed up, the company would reach a different conclusion.

The meeting will not determine the fate of the project, it is simply just a first step.

Coronado said it has begun environmental permitting but expects the process may take up to five years. During its presentation, the company said it could start mining in 2027.