Company spokesman Gary Broadbent told Coal Age that it is investing $45 million in the expansion of the coal preparation facilities at the Ohio County Coal Co. in Benwood, which sits on the banks of the Ohio River that splits West Virginia and Ohio.

“Ohio County is building a new coal preparation plant, which will improve the plant’s efficiency and coal processing capacity,” he said. “This upgrade will allow the plant to process up to 1,800 tons per hour, a 38% increase from the current feed rate.”

Broadbent said that the module should be fully operational by May 2015. The 66-person payroll is projected to remain unchanged.

Ohio County, which was formerly known as the Shoemaker complex before CONSOL Energy sold it and several other Appalachian mines to MEC last year, is expected to produce 6.4 million tons for domestic use in 2015.

In related news, Broadbent confirmed that the company is also in the process of relocating its mining operations at the Ohio Valley Coal Co. Powhatan No. 6 operation in Belmont County, Ohio.

The move, which will include transport of equipment and infrastructure to another portion of the operation about 10 miles away, began on December 22 and is expected to take about four weeks.

“During this transition, all mining activities will cease and manpower will be focused on the relocation effort,” he said. “Staffing levels will be lower during this period, as the relocation of equipment and infrastructure requires fewer employees than full-scale mining.”

Ohio Valley’s payroll of 758 will be cut by 333 for that period while the move is performed. The idle is temporary, however; full-scale production, normal scheduling and full employment should resume on January 20.