As previously announced in mid-2013, Quest began development of the contour and auger mining operations, receiving regulatory and blasting approval in February of this year. The first auger coal was extracted in late April.
Using contour strip and auger mining methods, the company is initially targeting the Elkhorn 3, Elkhorn 3 Rider and Elkhorn 2 coal seams, with a potential to also extract coal from the Hazard 4 coal seam at a later date. All coal within these seams carry a high BTU and low (less than 1%) sulfur (except for the Elkhorn 3 seam, which has a sulfur content of 1-2%). While Quest has attractive orders for this coal on the thermal market, the company is also evaluating other specialty markets for the coal (such as PCI or met blend), which may command a premium in the thermal market.
Mark Jensen, chairman and CEO of Quest Energy, said, “We are very excited to have this surface mine come into production. Not only does it allow Quest to provide its customers with a wider variety of coal qualities and specifications, but it also diversifies the company’s revenue base. With approximately four to five years’ worth of contour and auger work ahead of us with this mine, we look forward to this mine being a meaningful contribution to the larger Quest operations for the foreseeable future.”