To date in 2012, the Miller Creek complex has produced 1.55 million tons of coal; 83% is produced by surface operations. Annual direct estimated economic impact of the Miller Creek complex in Mingo County is $161.6 million.

CONSOL Energy attributed the idling of its Miller Creek operations to a sequence of permit delays that has prevented the company from securing all of the necessary environmental permits required to continue mining as identified in the company’s mine plan. The company secured its Article III mining permit in November 2011 from the state of West Virginia. It has been working cooperatively with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure the needed environmental permits, namely the Clean Water Act section 404 and section 402 permits, since November 2007. CONSOL Energy received news October 29 that the U.S. EPA released its objection to the company’s 402 permit, however that permit alone is not sufficient to allow miners to begin work.

“The decision to idle our Miller Creek surface operations is a difficult one for several reasons,” said Nick DeIuliis, president, CONSOL Energy. “The facility has operated without a lost-time accident since 1986, an exemplary safety record for the mining industry, and it is unfortunate that they will not be afforded the opportunity to extend that record. The failure to obtain timely permits despite our efforts in planning and cooperating with multiple agencies of jurisdiction is frustrating and is having a direct impact not only on these employees and their families, but on all state residents.

“CONSOL Energy has been working under a Memorandum of Understanding together with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the West Virginia Departments of Highways and Environmental Protection and the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority since 2007 to secure the permits for development of our Buffalo Mountain mine project on which the King Coal Highway was planned for post-mine use land,” DeIuliis said. “It was there we were planning to re-assign our workforce once the area in which they were mining was completed. The combined mine and highway project, in addition to providing much needed jobs, would have a total statewide economic impact of $484.7 million.”

CONSOL Energy said it appreciates the efforts of the state of West Virginia to issue all of the required permits under their jurisdiction and remains optimistic that as the company continues to work with federal, state and local officials, it will be ultimately successful in securing the approvals necessary to enable jobs and economic development for the mine and highway project in Mingo County and the state.