Coal mine proposed for east-central Illinois
SIDELL, Ill. (AP) — A proposed coal mine in southern Vermilion County might bring hundreds of jobs with it, and mine officials say the methods of mining they plan to use are designed to be safe and ecologically friendly.
In a statement released late Wednesday, officials from Sunrise Coal, LLC of Terre Haute, Ind., said the prospective plan for their mine would employ more than 300 workers with jobs that range from $18 to $26 per hour. The anticipated life expectancy of the mine is 30 years.
The company had given notice to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for test drilling in the area and has leased 17,000 Vermilion County acres from landowners for exploratory purposes.
The company said it is reviewing quality and rock mechanics and hopes to determine the property as a minable reserve before the end of 2010.
If the coal company chooses to move forward, the permit process for the mine would take 18 months to two years to complete.
The IDNR permit application process also includes public involvement, including notice in a newspaper for four consecutive weeks. It also gives the community the opportunity to submit comments during a hearing.
Concerned residents in the area conducted a meeting in early July in Broadlands regarding the potential problems they felt could arise with a coal mine in the neighborhood. Concerns such as water availability, water quality and protection of farmland were raised.
Sunrise Coal stated Wednesday if the mine is installed they plan to extract coal using the “room and pillar” method of mining, not the “long-wall” method.
“When mining using the room and pillar approach, roughly half of the coal is extracted and the remaining coal is used as support so as not to disturb the surface,” Brent Bilsland, Sunrise Coal president said. “Additionally, we install metal supports to safeguard our miners.”
The room and pillar underground mining approach is employed at the Sunrise Coal mine in Carlisle, Ind.
Sunrise said it will comply with state and federal requirements regarding water quality, with numerous monitoring wells being placed and stream samples also being taken from nearby properties to ensure that water quality and availability will not be affected. They also expect to pipe in their own water supply.
Any water discharge points will be sampled regularly and monitored by an independent third party, state government officials and Sunrise Coal engineers.
Sunrise Coal has operated in Vermilion County before, under the name of Catlin Coal, which developed the Riola mine south of Catlin. Sunrise Coal, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallador Energy Company of Colorado. Founded in 2002 by Ron and Steve Laswell, the company has focused on underground coal mining. In 2006, Hallador Energy purchased part of Sunrise Coal and began the development of the Carlisle mine. The Carlisle mine removes more than three million tons annually and employs more than 320 people.
According to the IDNR, the proposed mining area borders both most recently closed Vermilion County mines. The Riola portal is to the north and the Vermilion Grove portal lies along its eastern boundary.