Coal sector-led council finalizing recommendations for DOE to boost coal exports
A slate of potential policy changes that would advance U.S. coal exports is being completed for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry by a council primarily consisting of representatives of the coal industry. The report, currently in draft form, suggests policies to help deploy advanced coal mining and processing technologies, streamline funding for the nation's inland waterway systems, enhance port and terminal capacity, eliminate policy and technology barriers to deploying coal plants to other countries, and support efforts to advance coal as a means of "economic development in international markets." Perry directed the National Coal Council, a body that has advised the U.S. Energy Department since 1984, to prepare the report in January and to propose what could be done to increase export opportunities for U.S. coal.
Feds approve 2,100-acre lease for Alton Coal mine in Utah
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved a 2,114-acre coal lease for Alton Coal Development LLC that contains an estimated 30.8 million tons of recoverable coal. The BLM said about 90% of the coal accessible by surface mining methods could be recovered, while only about 50% of the deeper coal requiring underground mining is recoverable. The chosen plan limits the environmental impacts related to the Clean Water Act as well as the negative impacts to the greater sage-grouse population and the nearby town of Alton, according to the decision.
MSHA releases Pocahontas mine from 'pattern of violations' status after 5 years
Pocahontas Coal Co. entered into a settlement with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to terminate the "pattern of violations" status at its Affinity mine after nearly five years. The agency issued the pattern of violations, or POV, to the Affinity mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., on Oct. 24, 2013, as part of its efforts to target mines that repeatedly violated safety rules. Two Affinity miners died in separate incidents within two weeks that year. United Coal Co. LLC, which Pocahontas is a unit of, issued a release Aug. 31 announcing that the POV was terminated effective Aug. 28.
Peabody relinquished thousands of acres of federal coal leases in recent months
Peabody Energy Corp. has asked the U.S. government to let it relinquish thousands of acres of coal leases associated with two of its Powder River Basin coal mines as the region faces ongoing pressure from waning domestic utility demand. Documents from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management show Peabody, the largest coal company in the U.S., applied to relinquish 2,740 acres of federal coal lands at its Caballo mine in February 2017. Peabody applied to relinquish another 1,775 acres of federal coal property from the Caballo mine and 1,136 acres from its Rawhide mine in June of this year. Relinquishments submitted by Peabody this year were tracts with mined-out areas, while last year a similar-sized tract with a small part of the company's reserves was relinquished. The company is also expecting to be awarded a bond release later this year after relinquishing 1,280 acres at its Shoshone mine.