“Being a startup mine right now, we can only make 17-ft cuts before we have to tram the miner to another location,” said Ron Hutchcraft, president of VHGI Coal, Lily’s parent company. “This reduces production quite a bit. Hopefully, in the near future this length can be increased to around 35 ft.”

Lily has recalled several dozen miners to the continuous miner operation in Greene County. The company is contracted to produce and ship a minimum of 180,000 tons this year to IP&L, an AES Corp. subsidiary, at a contract price of $61/ton.

“With our funding in place, we have accelerated the pace of development with the hiring of additional personnel, bringing our total work force to 66 employees,” said Rick Risinger, CEO, VHGI Holdings.

According to Hutchcraft, the company is awaiting final approval of a plan by the Mine Safety and Health Administration that would “accelerate our efforts into getting into the first panel. Until we receive the approval we are mining in mains.” Lily/VHGI is expecting approval this spring.

Hutchcraft said Landree’s No. 4 seam coal is “sold out this year.” The No. 4 seam contains some of the lowest-sulfur coal in Indiana—under 2 lb/SO2, and is considered compliance coal.

Once a second continuous miner unit is added, Landree’s production is expected to grow to 500,000 to 600,000 tons annually.