United expands holdings again

PRIVATELY held United Coal Company has bought the Rapoca Group, whose assets include 11 underground and six surface mining operations as well as three preparation plants.

Staff Reporter

Rapoca’s various properties contain more than 30 million tonnes of recoverable reserves.


West Virginia-based United Coal last year added 60 million tonnes of metallurgical coal to its reserves through its purchase of White Mountain Mining.


The new deal returns to United Coal’s ownership the Wellmore No. 7 and No. 8 coal preparation plants located in Big Rock, Virginia, which were sold to Massey Energy in 1997. Many of Rapoca's employees are former United Coal employees. Also included in the purchase is the Nora preparation plant located in Virginia.


The Rapoca Group’s mines are located throughout Buchanan, Tazewell and Dickenson counties, with additional reserves in Pike County, Kentucky, and McDowell County, West Virginia. The company has been renamed Wellmore Coal Company.


United Coal said the newly bought reserves were a perfect strategic fit for the company.


"The Splashdam reserves are some of the most sought after mid-high volatile coal in the Central Appalachian Basin. Our sales team has a long and successful history selling this coal to domestic and international metallurgical coal consumers. The Wellmore coals will complement our recent low vol acquisition at Pocahontas Coal and existing high vol coal at Carter Roag," president Michael Zervos said.


As part of the deal, Rapoca owner Clyde Stacy received a minority stake in United Coal and will remain involved with the company.


"This is a great time for the coal industry," Stacy said. "And it's wonderful to have United back in the coal business. It was always a progressive company. That attitude prevails, and I'm excited to be a part of it."


Since its recent re-emergence into the coal business, United Coal has aggressively expanded its reserve base in the Central Appalachian coalfields. The company expects to produce more than 6 million tonnes in 2006 from 27 mines and seven coal preparation plants.

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