By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

The engineers that build prep plants hesitate to say the coal preparation business has returned to the “business as usual” levels of the 1990s. The pace of new plant construction has slowed, especially compared to what took place in the last few years. Considering the impact of the recession, however, the coal prep business is doing remarkably well.

Currently, according to the Coal Age U.S. Prep Plant Census, there are 286 prep plants. A total of 18 plants are listed as idle and that is noted in the census. They have not been removed because they can usually be renovated and reactivated quickly. The number of active plants is 267. West Virginia has 75 prep plants, followed by Kentucky (74), Pennsylvania-Bit. (24), Virginia (22), Ohio (20), Indiana (19) and Illinois (15).

Five new prep plants were constructed last year, Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge prep plant in West Virginia, Peabody Energy’s Bear Run and Wild Boar prep plants in Indiana, Massey Energy’s Zigmond Processing facility in West Virginia, and Arch Coal’s West Elk prep plant in Colorado.

The new West Elk prep plant has a raw feed capacity of 700 tons per hour (tph). It is a heavy-media plant and employs a heavy-media vessel for primary separation. Taggart Global constructed the plant.

Peabody Energy’s Bear Run prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a 1,600 tph raw feed capacity. For primary separation, it uses large diameter cyclones. Bear Run uses heavy-media cyclones for intermediate separation and spirals for processing fine coal. The plant has elemental and moisture analyzers. It uses PLC controls and was constructed by Taggart.

Peabody’s Wild Boar prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a raw feed capacity of 650 tph. It uses large-diameter cyclones for primary separation, and froth and spiral circuits for fine coal recovery. The plant is also PLC controlled. It was built by General Mine Contracting (GMC).

Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a raw feed capacity of 1,800 tph. It uses heavy-media vessels and large-diameter cyclones for primary separation, heavy-media cyclones for intermediate separation, and spirals and columns for fine coal recovery. The plant uses PLC controls and was also built by Taggart.

Massey Energy completed construction and restarted operations at its Bandmill preparation plant in Logan County, W.Va., earlier than previously anticipated. The plant, which was destroyed by fire during August 2009, resumed operations in September 2010. The redesigned plant was renamed Zigmond Processing, after retired longtime Massey employee Richard Zigmond. With a raw feed capacity of 1,200 tph, it is a state-of-the-art heavy-media vessel, heavy-media cyclone, spiral and froth flotation facility. It services four underground mines producing high quality metallurgical coal and two surface mines producing steam coal. The mines are all part of the company’s Logan County resource group. The facility also has a new batch-weigh flood loadout that can load 15,000 ton trains in four hours.

In December 2009, Massey Energy  acquired metallurgical and steam coal reserves from the bankrupt Appalachian Fuels and its affiliates, which included the Skyline prep plant in Kentucky.

Cliffs Natural Resources acquired INR Energy, which was formerly known as Imagin Natural Resources. With that acquisition, Cliffs gained the Saunders prep plant in West Virginia, bringing the company’s total to three plants (Pinnacle in West Virginia and Concord in Alabama).

In February 2010, CONSOL Energy completed a modernization project at its Shoemaker mine, located near Moundsville, W.Va. An antiquate coal haulage system was replaced with a new modern belt haulage system. The $205 million capital improvement project included 12 miles of 60-inch main conveyor belt underground, and 2.5 miles of a 54-inch overland conveyor belt system that moves coal to the Shoemaker prep plant along the Ohio River, south of Wheeling, W.Va. As part of the project, the prep plant  and load-out were renovated as well. The Shoemaker mine is expected to produce a total of 4.9 million tons of coal in 2010.

Last year, CONSOL Energy idled the Peach Orchard prep plant in West Virginia. Formerly known as Fola Coal, the mine fell victim to current permitting issues. More recently, the company announced it would close Mine 84 in Pennsylvania and that plant is listed as idle.

Patriot Coal closed the Harris No. 1 mine and idled the Federal mine in West Virginia. Both plants are now listed as idle.

Rhino Resources announced an IPO this month, and all of the plants formerly listed as Central Appalachian Mining have been renamed accordingly.

Each year Coal Age conducts a fairly comprehensive survey of the industry to produce the U.S. Plant Census. If readers recognize errors or notice missing active plants or data that need to be updated, please contact Steve Fiscor (Tel: 904-721-2925;E-mail: sfiscor@mining-media.com).
The engineers that build prep plants hesitate to say the coal preparation business has returned to the “business as usual” levels of the 1990s. The pace of new plant construction has slowed, especially compared to what took place in the last few years. Considering the impact of the recession, however, the coal prep business is doing remarkably well.

Currently, according to the Coal Age U.S. Prep Plant Census, there are 286 prep plants. A total of 18 plants are listed as idle and that is noted in the census. They have not been removed because they can usually be renovated and reactivated quickly. The number of active plants is 267. West Virginia has 75 prep plants, followed by Kentucky (74), Pennsylvania-Bit. (24), Virginia (22), Ohio (20), Indiana (19) and Illinois (15).

Five new prep plants were constructed last year, Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge prep plant in West Virginia, Peabody Energy’s Bear Run and Wild Boar prep plants in Indiana, Massey Energy’s Zigmond Processing facility in West Virginia, and Arch Coal’s West Elk prep plant in Colorado.

The new West Elk prep plant has a raw feed capacity of 700 tons per hour (tph). It is a heavy-media plant and employs a heavy-media vessel for primary separation. Taggart Global constructed the plant.

Peabody Energy’s Bear Run prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a 1,600 tph raw feed capacity. For primary separation, it uses large diameter cyclones. Bear Run uses heavy-media cyclones for intermediate separation and spirals for processing fine coal. The plant has elemental and moisture analyzers. It uses PLC controls and was constructed by Taggart.

Peabody’s Wild Boar prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a raw feed capacity of 650 tph. It uses large-diameter cyclones for primary separation, and froth and spiral circuits for fine coal recovery. The plant is also PLC controlled. It was built by General Mine Contracting (GMC).

Alliance Resources’ Tunnel Ridge prep plant is a heavy-media plant with a raw feed capacity of 1,800 tph. It uses heavy-media vessels and large-diameter cyclones for primary separation, heavy-media cyclones for intermediate separation, and spirals and columns for fine coal recovery. The plant uses PLC controls and was also built by Taggart.

Massey Energy completed construction and restarted operations at its Bandmill preparation plant in Logan County, W.Va., earlier than previously anticipated. The plant, which was destroyed by fire during August 2009, resumed operations in September 2010. The redesigned plant was renamed Zigmond Processing, after retired longtime Massey employee Richard Zigmond. With a raw feed capacity of 1,200 tph, it is a state-of-the-art heavy-media vessel, heavy-media cyclone, spiral and froth flotation facility. It services four underground mines producing high quality metallurgical coal and two surface mines producing steam coal. The mines are all part of the company’s Logan County resource group. The facility also has a new batch-weigh flood loadout that can load 15,000 ton trains in four hours.

In December 2009, Massey Energy  acquired metallurgical and steam coal reserves from the bankrupt Appalachian Fuels and its affiliates, which included the Skyline prep plant in Kentucky.

Cliffs Natural Resources acquired INR Energy, which was formerly known as Imagin Natural Resources. With that acquisition, Cliffs gained the Saunders prep plant in West Virginia, bringing the company’s total to three plants (Pinnacle in West Virginia and Concord in Alabama).

In February 2010, CONSOL Energy completed a modernization project at its Shoemaker mine, located near Moundsville, W.Va. An antiquate coal haulage system was replaced with a new modern belt haulage system. The $205 million capital improvement project included 12 miles of 60-inch main conveyor belt underground, and 2.5 miles of a 54-inch overland conveyor belt system that moves coal to the Shoemaker prep plant along the Ohio River, south of Wheeling, W.Va. As part of the project, the prep plant  and load-out were renovated as well. The Shoemaker mine is expected to produce a total of 4.9 million tons of coal in 2010.

Last year, CONSOL Energy idled the Peach Orchard prep plant in West Virginia. Formerly known as Fola Coal, the mine fell victim to current permitting issues. More recently, the company announced it would close Mine 84 in Pennsylvania and that plant is listed as idle.

Patriot Coal closed the Harris No. 1 mine and idled the Federal mine in West Virginia. Both plants are now listed as idle.

Rhino Resources announced an IPO this month, and all of the plants formerly listed as Central Appalachian Mining have been renamed accordingly.

Each year Coal Age conducts a fairly comprehensive survey of the industry to produce the U.S. Plant Census. If readers recognize errors or notice missing active plants or data that need to be updated, please contact Steve Fiscor (Tel: 904-721-2925;E-mail: sfiscor@mining-media.com).