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US environmentalist restarting 3 Canadian coking coal mines

U.S. environmentalist Tom Clarke has been buying up coking coal mines in Canada and restarting them using carbon offsets gained from reforestation schemes, reported Sept. 23

Conuma Coal Resources Ltd., a subsidiary of Clarke's Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund Inc., closed a deal in early September to acquire Alabama-based Walter Energy Inc.'s three metallurgical coal mines in British Columbia, while earlier deals over the past year also saw Clarke acquire a number of troubled West Virginia mines.

Clarke, who is president and CEO of the ERP Environmental Fund, made a fortune in the healthcare sector after founding nursing home and rehabilitation center operator Kissito Healthcare Inc.

His companies bid for the assets of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. earlier this year, and also bought several closed mines in West Virginia.

Now Brule, the Walter Energy mine bought as part of the recent deal, could restart as soon as this week, reported, citing Ken McCoy, a co-owner of Conuma Coal Resources.

"We’ll be recalling close to 200 employees," McCoy was quoted as saying.

The new investor aims to restart operations at the Wolverine site in 2017, while Willow Creek would require further study related to geological issues, according to the report.

The acquisitions, which were reportedly made at "fire sale" prices, according to, were very timely — the price of hard coking coal more than doubled over the past three months, due to a jump in demand from Chinese steel mills and supply problems at some Australian mines.