Company CEO Randall Atkins said the Elk Creek mine in Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties in West Virginia and the Berwind mine, which straddles McDowell County, West Virginia, and Buchanan County, Virginia, could have 17-year lifespans.

Their establishment is thanks to a $90 million private equity investment with Energy Capital Partners Mezzanine and Yorktown Energy Partners.

“We will begin our operations from a construction standpoint within the next 30 days and hope to be in production by late spring of next year,” Atkins told West Virginia MetroNews in early September. “We will start construction at the Elk Creek property just as soon as we get all the equipment lined up there.

“Probably by mid-spring, we are going to start construction on a plant that will wash the coal,” he added, although he did not elaborate on the plant’s capacity. Raw Resources of Princeton, West Virginia, has been retained for the plant’s construction; that will commence this month and take about a year.

Elk Creek was purchased by Ramaco in 2012; it hasn’t seen active mining since the late 1990s when it was a CONSOL Energy operation. Berwind, which it acquired last year, is currently in the final permitting stages.

Both mines could be producing their first tons in early 2017 via both surface and underground methods. At Elk Creek, which is considered the flagship of the two, it will produce high-vol A/B and some high-vol A via both deep mining and surface/highwall.

“We’re shooting for May” to run coal, he said, noting that it will be washing the coal at another location to start (Ramaco acquired the Knox Creek preparation plant from Alpha at a bankruptcy court sale in late June).

At Berwind, mostly low-vol coal will be taken when permitting from both West Virginia and Virginia is completed somewhere around the first quarter and operations can commence.

President Mike Bauersachs, who will provide the executive operational management of the properties, said the key to its success in the coal space begins with geology. “Ramaco’s properties have both quality and geological advantages that should rank them among the most productive mines in the metallurgical coal space,” he added. “By adding new infrastructure and equipment, we are creating the ability to be a long-term reliable supplier to coke and steel customers worldwide.”

The reportedly debt-free company is also working towards first coal at its planned Brook mine in northern Wyoming. Meanwhile, it is negotiating supply contracts for the new Appalachian mines and is anticipating shipping first coal under those mostly domestic agreements in 2018. The company is projecting a combined annual production target of 4 million tons from the mines at peak.

Ramaco, which was founded in 2011 with a focus on metallurgical opportunities in the eastern U.S, currently has about 200 million tons of recoverable coal reserves in its portfolio.