Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC

KNIGHT Hawk Coal says costs and operational difficulties – both heightened in a weak coal market – sealed the fate of its now-closed Royal Falcon operation in Illinois.
Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC Costs doomed Royal Falcon: KHC

Courtesy Knight Hawk Coal

Donna Schmidt

Director of operations Josh Carter confirmed late last week that the underground room and pillar mine was closed November 18 and that all 50 workers were transferred to other KHC properties.

Management said refocusing the company’s resources to other mines allowed 350 miners to keep their jobs.

“We knew that mining this area would present operational difficulties,” Carter said. “Until you are actually mining you cannot be sure what the challenges will be.

“While we were able to meet most of these challenges, it simply became too costly in light of current market conditions.

“The timing of this decision is critical as it coincides with the expansion of our Prairie Eagle complex, including the reallocation of resources to that mine, also ensuring the continued employment of Royal Falcon employees.”

While the company did not outline its plans for the mine’s equipment fleet, it did confirm it would retain its interest in the Royal Falcon property as it may potentially redevelop operations in the future.

Carter said he did not expect a market rebound until 2010 and projected a 10% growth next year.

Knight Hawk commenced production on the 700,000 ton per year Royal Falcon in January 2008. The room and pillar operation extracted from the 10 foot-thick No. 6 seam, which was under an average 175ft of overburden.

The operation utilized Joy 1414 continuous miners from two active faces to produce coal with 1.2% sulfur content and 11,800Btu in the north, and about 2.5% sulfur and 11,200Btu in the south.

KCH, established in 1998, operates the Prairie Eagle Mine complex in western Perry County with one surface and two underground mines. It also controls the Red Hawk mine and the Creek Paum mine in northern Jackson County.

For more information on Knight Hawk Coal and the Prairie Eagle operation, check out the December 2009 issue of Coal USA Magazine, out now.