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Japanese trader investing in large W.Va. metallurgical coal mine development

Tokyo-based trading company Itochu Corp. is investing in a West Virginia metallurgical coal mine project that is expected to begin production in 2022 and become one of the largest coking coal mines in the U.S.

Itochu concluded a definitive agreement with U.S.-based American Metals & Coal International Inc., South Korea-based steelmaker POSCO and U.S.-based investor JAZ Ventures LP to acquire a 25% membership interest in North Central Resources LLC, the owner of the Longview coking coal mine. American Metals, POSCO and JAZ hold membership interests of about 42.4%, 22.1% and 10.6%, respectively, in North Central.

The mine is under development in Barbour County, W.Va., with total development costs estimated at about US$450 million, the company said in a Dec. 25 news release. Itochu and the existing members of North Central Resources will fund the cost proportional to their interests.

Itochu expects the mine to be in operation for 30 years with annual production capacity of about 4 million tons, placing it among the largest metallurgical coal mines in the U.S.

American Metals, JAZ and Itochu will also establish a new company to conduct global sales and marketing activities exclusively.