The company began driving the slope for Maple Springs, in Somerset County, late last year and the mine should have started producing coal this year. Now, production is likely to be delayed until sometime in 2017. That is when Armagh-based Robindale believes the met coal market will improve sufficiently to allow Maple Springs to be completed. “We’re certainly hoping things pick up,” Gil Widenhofer, Robindale’s vice president, said in June.

Maple Springs, a continuous miner operation, would start out with a single production unit and turn out about 500,000 tons per year. Like most other coal producers in the U.S., Robindale/LCT have been forced to curtail some operations as they try to navigate through the toughest coal market in decades. In early summer, LCT still operated seven surface and underground mines in Somerset and Clearfield counties.

The Brubaker surface mine in Somerset County was not one of them. Currently idled, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Brubaker once produced about 300,000 tons annually and was targeted to eventually reach the 1-million-ton-per-year mark. In all, LCT, formed in December 2009, controls approximately 150 million tons of met coal reserves.