A Northern Appalachian subsidiary of the Lexington, Ky.-based company, Sands Hill Mining, also is developing its first underground thermal coal mine in Ohio. The Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management expects to release a permit decision for the new Rock Camp No. 1 mine in Vinton County in the latter half of this year, according to Brent Heavilin, the division’s permitting manager. The room-and-pillar operation is targeted to begin production in the summer of 2015, turning out up to 500,000 tons of high-sulfur coal annually from Northern Appalachia’s 4A Clarion seam.

Rhino said its fourth quarter 2013 output and sales were about 842,000 tons and 871,000 tons, respectively. That compared to production and sales of 1.1 million tons and 1.2 million tons, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company’s Northern Appalachia mines produced 326,000 tons and sold 310,000 tons in the October-December period. Sales from Rhino’s Hopedale mine in Ohio are fully contracted through 2014. The Sands Hill operation, however, continues to operate on a reduced production schedule to align with committed sales, the company said.

In Central Appalachia, Rhino produced 176,000 tons of thermal coal and 120,000 tons of met coal in the fourth quarter for a total of 296,000 tons. Thermal coal sales totaled 185,000 tons and met coal sales 148,000 tons in the quarter.

Meanwhile, Rhino’s Castle Valley mine in Utah produced 220,000 tons and sold 228,000 tons during the fourth quarter.

Development continues on the Pennyrile mine, also known as Riveredge, on the Green River in western Kentucky’s McLean County. Slope development continues with 800 ft excavated on the surface, while 200 ft of the underground portion has been mined. Only an estimated 100 ft remains to access the coal seam, Rhino said in January.

The mine’s ventilation shaft is complete to the coal seam and crews currently are finishing the concrete divider wall. Also, the preparation plant structure has been erected and the majority of the equipment has been set in place. And, construction of the river dock and loadout has begun and loading equipment has been purchased.

Pennyrile’s production is projected to reach 800,000 tons annually by 2015. Rhino has an agreement with an unidentified regional electric utility to supply 800,000 tons annually from the mine through 2017, with a contract reopener for 2018-2020.