Sunrise Coal looks to extend Oaktown 1 mine; possibly into Illinois: state official

Louisville, Kentucky (Platts)--17 Jun 2015 502 pm EDT/2102 GMT

Sunrise Coal wants to extend the Oaktown No 1 underground thermal coal mine in Indiana, possibly including underneath the Wabash River and into company-owned reserves in Illinois, an Indiana state official said Wednesday.

The Hallador Energy subsidiary has filed an application with the Indiana Division of Reclamation to add 9,690 acres of underground area to Oaktown 1, Pete Sartoris, assistant director of the technical services section of the agency, said in an interview.

"It's an extension of their current mining, which is getting pretty close to that area so they want to add it on," Sartoris said.

The request, if approved, would allow Sunrise to tunnel "right to the middle of the river," he added.

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The company would need approval from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to complete the tunneling into that state.

Sunrise/Hallador officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hallador CEO Brent Bilsland has said, however, that Sunrise's acquisition last year of the Oaktown Nos. 1 and 2 deep mines from Vectren Fuels should enable Sunrise to access a large, contiguous reserve of high-sulfur coal in both states.

A final decision on the Oaktown 1 extension request is not expected until early 2016, Sartoris said.

If the amended permit is granted, Oaktown 1 would extend westward over a large natural gas storage field owned by Texas Gas Transmission, he noted. "This is something they'll have to deal with," he said, referring to Sunrise officials. "This potentially could be a problem. The storage area is below where the mining would be. They'll be mining over it."

--Bob Matyi,
--Edited by Richard Rubin,

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