As anticipated, the company’s Prairie Eagle mine in Perry County continues to be the hub of its regional operations. Prairie Eagle started as a surface mine in 2005, but eventually was expanded to include two underground mines.
By early fall, Knight Hawk expects to complete construction on a new portal at Prairie Eagle that would reduce the distance and time needed to reach the mine’s face. Knight Hawk controls an estimated 100 million tons of reserves at the Prairie Eagle location.
Also, as expected, Knight Hawk’s new Golden Eagle surface mine near Pinckneyville in Perry County is in production. Shipments from Golden Eagle started in July from coal trucked from the mine to the Prairie Eagle prep plant elsewhere in the county. Golden Eagle will not be a particularly large mine, turning out perhaps 200,000 tons of high-sulfur coal this year before ramping up to full output of around 400,000 tons annually in 2017.
Under an arrangement reached with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Knight Hawk is allowed to use part of the 19,701-acre Pyramid State Park in Perry County as a staging area for mining 240 acres of private, adjacent land owned by the company that includes the Golden Eagle operation. Once mining is finished in several years, Knight Hawk will turn the land over to the state.
Almost all of Knight Hawk’s operations are located within a 35-mile radius of where Perry, Jackson and Randolph counties meet in southern Illinois. The company also owns the Lone Eagle dock near Chester on the Mississippi River. St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. owns a 49% stake in Knight Hawk. Arch was in the process of exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in late July.