American Land Holdings of Illinois LLC, the Peabody subsidiary, offered more than two years ago to swap three parcels of property totaling 831 acres for 364 acres of federal government-owned land in the Shawnee National Forest near Harrisburg.
A pair of national environmental groups, the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, threatened to sue the federal government over their claims that mining the land along the Saline River in Gallatin County could harm two federally protected species — the Indiana bat and grey bat.
That issue has been rendered moot, however, now that Peabody has withdrawn its land swap application, according to Amanda Patrick, a public affairs officer for the Forest Service. She said American Land Holdings did not give a reason for its decision, and American Land Holdings/Peabody officials could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Peabody, the world’s largest privately owned coal company, previously said it was premature to discuss the company’s plans for the Forest Service land.
Peabody confirmed the quarter-century-old Viking surface mine operated by its Peabody Midwest Mining subsidiary near Montgomery in Daviess County, Ind., continued to produce coal in late January even though it was targeted for retirement by the end of 2013 or early January. The company, which issued a federal WARN Act notice in early November stating that Viking would close in two months, declined to say how much longer the mine would operate.
Viking was started up in 1988 by Black Beauty Coal Co. of Evansville, Ind. Peabody acquired Black Beauty more than a decade ago and renamed it Peabody Midwest Mining.
Over the years, Viking has used truck and shovel fleets to remove overburden, with the coal transported to an area preparation plant for crushing and processing. Viking has sold its coal to a variety of customers, mostly regional electric utilities such as Indianapolis Power & Light, Duke Energy and Hoosier Energy.
For many years, the mine consistently produced in excess of 1 million tons annually. In both 2010 and 2011 it turned out about 1.5 million tons each year before output began to decline, reaching 1.3 million tons in 2012 and falling to 1.1 million tons in 2013.
The non-union mine had nearly a hundred employees in January.