NAG has begun the process to register M3 with the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources to serve as operator, and has also started on the paperwork with federal regulators and the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals for a mine license.
Once complete, M3 will start mining the No. 2 mine while preparing the No. 3 operation for highwall mining, which is expected to commence next month.
M3’s current operations are centered in central Appalachia. NAG noted the company was capable of managing several projects simultaneously and was currently operating with highwall miners, surface and underground mine equipment, and preparation resources.
NAG filed state applications for exploration permits at five of its Kentucky properties in September: the Swan Pond (NAG No. 3), Gilliam Hill South and Arkle Hollow leases as well as the North American Gem No. 2 and No. 3 mines.
The Gilliam Hill South lease is just south of NAG No. 2 and encompasses 500 acres. It contains the Blue Gem, Jellico, Dean and Moss coal seams, with Dean and Moss historically proven to be low sulfur and high quality, ideal for utility market use.
Arkle Hollow, meanwhile, is less than 1 kilometer south of Gilliam Hill South and is on about 562 acres. It contains the same coal seams as its northern neighbor, and both properties are situated within 3km of the NAG processing facility.
North American Gem commenced sales and shipping of coal from the No. 2 surface and auger operation in Knox County in August.
The company plans to service the industrial stoker markets, silicon metal producers and electricity generators with its output.
The highest-priced coal grade in the US, coal from the Blue Gem seam is about 200% higher in value than high-quality steam coal.