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Louisville, Kentucky — Indiana is defending a recent Department of Natural Resources decision to issue a permit for a 3,516-acre extension of White Stallion Energy's Liberty coal surface mine in Warrick County, a state official said Monday.

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The city of Boonville and the Save Our Homes citizens group is challenging that permit through an administrative appeal, DNR attorney Samantha DeWester said in an interview.

"They have requested a stay of the effective permit," she added. The state is opposing that request.

US aluminum giant Alcoa, which owns the Liberty high-sulfur coal reserves that White Stallion mined, filed in January a lawsuit to overturn a new Boonville city ordinance that restricts mining to within 300 feet of a residence. The local citizens group contends their properties could be harmed by blasting and other mining activities if Liberty is allowed to expand.

Alcoa says it needs the extension to boost production at Liberty to about 1.7 million st/year to supply its 755-MW Warrick power plant that generates electricity for the company's sprawling Warrick aluminum operations.

Liberty produced 361,080 st in first-quarter 2018 and 1.4 million st in 2017, according to the US Mine Safety and Health Administration. In the past two years, White Stallion acquired small Illinois Basin coal producers Vigo Coal and Solar Sources.

Colleen Baughman, permit supervisor for the DNR's Division of Reclamation, said in an interview that Solar Sources is seeking an amendment to extend its Shamrock surface mine by 2,189.9 acres. Shamrock produced 351,401 st in Q1 and 1.3 million st last year, MSHA figures show.

--Bob Matyi,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,