Some of the largest steam coal producers in the high-sulfur Illinois Basin (ILB) are seeking to extend existing mines or open new operations as Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky attempt to claw back production lost over the last few years.

ILB output in mid-June was up 17% year-over-year despite several major mines in the region remaining idle. Among them was Foresight Energy’s Deer Run longwall mine near Hillsboro, Illinois. It largely has been inactive since March 26, 2015, when elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected. Those readings have since dropped and the St. Louis-based company is in the process of reopening the mine.

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