Paringa Resources Ltd. intercepted the Western Kentucky No. 9 coal seam with the primary transportation slope at its Poplar Grove mine in Kentucky, marking a "material milestone" in the company's pursuit of coal production, according to a Dec. 19 news release.
The Australian-based coal producer plans to transition from contract mining to owner-operated production in January 2019 and is receiving mining equipment in preparation.
The company can now move forward with subsequent mining phases, such as establishing the mine's permanent ventilation system and building "critical underground infrastructure" including a bottom sump and tramp iron magnet, the release said. The coal from this area will be used to commission the complex's coal handling and preparation plant, which is ready for its first batch of coal, and sold to customers.
Paringa's update on the Poplar Grove complex also said that other materials handling infrastructure is "operational" and ready to begin moving coal to the preparation plant; the Ainsworth dock on the Green River is ready to take coal from the plant; and hiring officials have interviewed more than 400 qualified applicants.
Coal prices in the Illinois Basin, where the mine is located, are seeing upward pressure as utilities secure 2019 and 2020 coal, yielding higher prices and longer-term contracts. Higher gas prices and underground storage lows are also benefiting coal producers.