Century, on which original construction was completed in 2002, is destined to retain the title of Ohio’s largest coal mine. Eventually, the mine could approach annual output of 14 million tons of high-sulfur steam coal. That is not expected to occur, however, until the new longwall goes into operation in October 2013.

Rob Murray, vice president of business development and external affairs for Pepper Pike, Ohio-based Murray Energy, said in May the company was driving the entries for the new Century mine from the new slope and from the underground workings of the old mine. “These entries are currently driven beyond the point at which the slope will intersect the coal seam,” he said.

The prep plant at Century was being expanded to accommodate the additional production. The prep plant work represents about $48 million of the project’s total cost. According to the company, the conveyor belt installed in the slope is the largest ever placed in a U.S. coal mining mine slope. The belt is 84 inches wide and has motors totaling 8,000 hp.