Major Illinois mine approved

ILLINOIS governor Pat Quinn has announced that a new, large underground coal operation in the southern region of the state has been approved and could be in production by late 2012.
Major Illinois mine approved Major Illinois mine approved Major Illinois mine approved Major Illinois mine approved Major Illinois mine approved

Courtesy Illinois Coal Association.

Donna Schmidt

Operated by White Oak Resources, the development phase of the White Oak No. 1 mine will create 300 construction jobs with another 350 permanent positions for Illinois Basin miners when it opens in late 2012 or early 2013.

“Our efforts at coal development, encouraging cleaner coal technology, and finding markets for Illinois coal mean thousands of jobs for Illinois workers and a huge boost to the regional economy,” Quinn said over the weekend.

White Oak Resources has invested more than $US400 million in the mine’s construction, and will have an annual payroll of more than $5 million.

With a projected output of 7.5 million tons, White Oak No. 1 is the first of four planned mines in the area near McLeansboro.

“While the coal mining industry has been particularly hard hit by the recent economic recession, White Oak remains committed to developing its reserves in Hamilton County,” White Oak president Scott Spears said.

“With these permits now in hand, we look forward to the next steps in the process of building a world-class operation that will not only bring high paying jobs to the area, but also bring additional high quality production to the Illinois Basin.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Mines and Minerals approved the permit for White Oak No. 1 last week; agency director Marc Miller noted that the operation’s home of Hamilton County will receive $6.2 million in mining royalties in the first five years of the mine’s existence.

White Oak chief executive officer Mike Tracy said in late 2008, when the company submitted its state permitting paperwork, that it had been acquiring reserves in the region for two years and at that time held 1.8 billion tons of coal.

He also noted at the time that all of the company’s planned mines were being laid out for 40-year lifespans.