While the initial deadline was set for March 20, Sunrise, which first submitted its permit documentation for the mine in 2012, had been working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office of Mines and Minerals on the revisions in light of impoundment regulation changes that resulted in the issuance of a modification letter.

According to Sunrise spokeswoman Suzanne Jaworowski, the permit was nearing approval, but the modification forced a re-design of the impoundment, a project that is expected to take several months. The extension was requested to line up with that new plan.

“It doesn’t mean that it will take another year to finalize the permit application, but we have that long if needed,” she said, declining further speculation on a timeline.

Scott Fowler, IDNR land reclamation division supervisor, told local paper the News-Gazette last week that it was leaning toward giving the greenlight to Sunrise’s request.

“I don’t see any reason not to give them the time,” he said.

Sunrise Coal is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colorado-based Hallador Energy. The company has leased 19,500 acres of mineral rights and 400 surface acres thus far for the Bulldog complex, which has been planned as a room-and-pillar operation.