Triad Mining began planning for Log Creek late in the last decade, not long after it was acquired for $75 million in May 2005 by James River Coal of Richmond, Virginia. But it never operated the former surface mine as an underground operation. James River and 33 affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on April 7, 2014. Last August, Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining LLC bought Central Appalachia and Illinois Basin steam, PCI and stoker coal assets, including Triad, from James River for $52 million plus an agreement to assume certain, unspecified liabilities.

Blackhawk is doubling down on its investment in Central Appalachia at a time when some producers are closing or cutting back across the region. By purchasing Triad, Blackhawk also gained entree to the high-sulfur Illinois Basin, arguably the healthiest coal-producing region in the United States.

Triad operates several surface and underground mines in Pike and Knox counties in southwestern Indiana, extracting coal from multiple seams including the Springfield, Danville, Millersburg, Bucktown and Hymera seams. Triad consistently produces more than 2 million tons of coal annually.

Blackhawk President Nick Glancy said in January his company secured a market for Log Creek’s coal, although he did not identify the customer(s) or disclose terms of the agreement. As currently envisioned by Blackhawk, Log Creek will not be a large mine, perhaps producing 50,000 to 75,000 tons in 2015 with a single continuous miner section before ramping up to 250,000 to 300,000 tons on an annualized basis in 2016 when Log Creek expands to a supersection.