Arch invests US$190m in new longwall

ARCH Coal will invest US$190m over the next four years in a new longwall in southern West Virginia, expected to produce five million tons annually.

Angie Tomlinson

The Mountain Laurel Mining Complex boasts reserves of 107 million tons, with 55 million tons dedicated to the new Mountaineer II mine.

Initial development is underway at the mine with first production expected at Mountaineer II in 2006. Full longwall production is anticipated to begin in mid-2007.

"It is with great pleasure that I stand here today to formally announce our plans to open what we believe will be one of the premier deep mines in the eastern coalfields - the new Mountaineer II mine at the Mountain Laurel complex in Logan County," Arch vice president of mining operations Kenneth Woodring said.

According to Arch Coal, more than 375 workers will be required to support the mine, as well as 250 contractors for the two-year construction phase.

The company said all major permits had been issued, and that initial development was underway.

The mine boasts clean-burning, low-sulfur reserves which will be available for sale as high-quality steam or metallurgical coal.

The opening of Mountaineer II coincides with the depletion of reserves at Mingo Logan's Mountaineer mine. Mountaineer expects to cease its longwall operation in early 2007. It will continue as a continuous miner operation at a lower production rate for several years.

The announcement of new mine follows news earlier this week Arch had secured the 5,084-acre Little Thunder coal lease in Wyoming's Powder River Basin for US$611 million. The lease has estimated reserves of 719 million mineable tons of high Btu, low sulfur coal and is located adjacent to the company's Black Thunder mine.