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Oxford Mining gets permit for Ohio surface coal mine

Oxford Mining Co. LLC was issued a permit by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to surface mine about 545 acres in Perry County, including portions of the Perry State Forest, a spokesperson for the state agency said Dec. 26.

James Lee said in an interview that the wastewater discharge permit authorizes Oxford Mining, Ohio's largest surface miner, to discharge from its APV Area into Rush Creek of Buckeye Fork from Feb. 1, 2019, until Jan. 21, 2024.

The new Northern Appalachian operation is expected to produce 300,000 to 500,000 tons of high-sulfur thermal coal annually for several years. The site was mined in the 1930s and 1940s before the advent of modern-day environmental regulations.

Because of the prior unregulated mining, Oxford's project would improve water quality in the area, the agency said in a statement.

Ohio EPA attached a number of conditions to the permit.

Oxford is a subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal Co., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. Officials with Westmoreland could not be reached for comment Dec. 26. A phone recording said the office was closed for the Christmas holidays. Attempts to reach Oxford officials in Ohio also were unsuccessful.

According to Brent Heavilin, permitting manager for the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management, Oxford is continuing to pursue additional mining permits despite Westmoreland's bankruptcy.

Bob Matyi is a reporter for S&P Global Platts, which, like S&P Global Market Intelligence, is owned by S&P Global Inc.