The start-up of the second longwall section at the mine is the final piece of a major two-year, US$200 million expansion project. Included as a part of the project was an expansion of the mine's 2,000 ton per hour preparation plant, commissioned in 2002, that improved the quality of the coal that could be produced. The mine's load-out facilities also were upgraded.
"We are very pleased that the second longwall section at McElroy came on-line early in the quarter, as we had planned," said Peter B. Lilly, Consol Energy coal chief operating officer.
"This investment illustrates our commitment to coal mining in the upper Ohio River Valley and helps us to meet expected additional market demand for high-Btu coal."
Coal at the mine is transported from both longwall sections via conveyor belt through an underground 7,500 ton in-mine bunker system. Coal from both walls will be collected here and fed onto the 72 inch main outbye belt, rated at 5,500 tons per hour.
Mining is currently in the 5 South area where panels are 1000 feet wide. The new longwall has been installed opposite the 5 South mains in 5 North at a little over 1100 feet wide face.
The new longwall equipment at the mine is state-of-the-art, and includes a remotely controlled shearer and "batch" driven shields, hydraulic units that support the mine roof and advance as mining progresses in groups, or batches, for greater efficiency and safety.
Lilly said high-Btu coal, like that produced at the McElroy Mine, will increasingly be valued in the market as power plant operators announce plans to install flue gas de-sulfurization equipment, or scrubbers.
"This is really a market within a market, and we expect to provide the additional coal to meet the demand of this market," he said.
With the start-up of the new longwall system, approximately 40 additional employees were hired for the workforce at McElroy. The facility currently employs approximately 630 people. In 2003, McElroy facility paid more than US$58 million in total wages, benefits, and taxes as well as purchasing more than US$34 million in products and services to operate.