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Blankenberger Brothers moving ahead with new Indiana coal mine

Blankenberger Brothers Inc. is in talks with several companies about financing and marketing a proposed thermal coal underground mine in Pike County, Ind., that could produce as much as 3 million tons a year, according to the company's president, Donnie Blankenberger.

The company was issued a final Indiana mining permit covering just less than 1,000 shadow acres in September 2016.

Blankenberger said the project is "moving along; it's all positive." He added the company is talking to two to three groups about developing the mine and is "looking at financing and other groups are looking at marketing."

Blankenberger Brothers is thinking of having its BB Mining subsidiary enter into a joint venture arrangement with at least one of the groups, he said.

"Permits are in place and it's ready to go. It's a matter of putting a bond up and going to town" with building the mine, he said.

Blankenberger envisions a room-and-pillar operation with an output of as much as 3 million tons a year, though he said some groups believe the mine's optimal size is 2 million to 2.5 million tons a year.

The mine would draw upon a 35 million-ton reserve formerly owned by IPALCO Enterprises Inc., the former owner of Indianapolis Power & Light Co. The coal averages 11,300-11,500 Btu/lb and 6 lbs SO2/MMBtu and features a 7-foot-thick seam.

While it is doubtful the mine will be under construction in 2018, timelines of 2019 or 2020 remain a possibility.

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