TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Two new properties and about three-million tons of reserves have been added to US anthracite producer Blaschak Coal's Pennsylvania-based operations, giving the company, one of the country's top anthracite producers, five active mine locations containing high-quality reserves.
The company – engaged in the mining, processing and distributing of anthracite coal in the state – on Wednesday stated that the two new locations meant increased coal reserves for the company, additional capacity to produce run-of-mine coal at favourable mine ratios and operating costs, and critical flexibility to optimise production for quality assurance and production cost.
"The expanded mining operations reflect our strategic belief in the value of anthracite in existing and emerging market applications. We're excited to increase our mining capacity, extending the environmental benefits afforded by our remining and reclamation, and providing confirmation of our belief that Pennsylvania anthracite has favourable environmental impacts when used in place of alternatives in domestic steelmaking,” Blaschak president and CEO Greg Driscoll said.
Blaschak had executed a long-term lease to mine a significant reserve in the Mount Carmel area of Columbia County. The company would relocate a Marion 7450 dragline to this location, as well as acquire a fleet of equipment to move into full operation on this site by the end of 2015.
The second location was in the Eastern coal measures near Hazleton. Blaschak had already started mining in this location with a Manitowic 4600 dragline. First coal production from the site started in August.
The capacity expansion coincided with a new study being released, suggesting that the carbon footprint of anthracite was smaller than that of traditional metallurgical coke.
The study, prepared by Dr Harold Schobert of Schobert International, compared the carbon footprints of traditional metallurgical coke use with that of Pennsylvania-produced anthracite as a fuel and reducing agent in US domestic steelmaking operations.
The study confirmed that the use of Pennsylvania anthracite over metallurgical coke significantly reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, thereby reducing the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere. In fact, replacing coke with anthracite in a single electric arc furnace could reduce CO2 by as much as 95 000 t – the equivalent carbon footprint of 2 000 households, or 11 000 motor vehicles.
"With the addition of these reserves in the new mining locations, we can quickly and efficiently provide clean, Pennsylvania anthracite for customers around the world,” Driscoll advised.
Blaschak's anthracite could play a critical part in a tighter US legislative environment, aimed specifically at reducing coal-fired power plants’ emissions. Several coal-producing US states and the private sector had lashed out at President Barack Obama and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) first-ever Clean Power Plan Rule that was finalised in August, aiming to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants and dealing the domestic fossil-fuel industry a bloody nose.
Under the newly finalised Clean Power Plan, the EPA would attempt to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning power plants, which accounted for the largest single source of US carbon emissions, representing about one-third of the total.
The plan would cut carbon emissions from the power sector by about 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan also provided state-specific goals and flexibility in meeting emissions targets, such as partnering with other states, emissions trading or implementing renewables and efficiency programmes.
It also included state incentives to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, and called for increases of 30% in renewable-energy generation and 28% in energy capacity from renewable sources. Simultaneously, it estimated that coal and natural gas would in 2030 remain the leading sources of electricity generation, at 27% and 33% respectively.
States would be required by September 2016 to submit final plans for the implementation of carbon-emission performance rates, or an initial plan and request a two-year extension.
Obama’s Clean Power Plan was a critical component of meeting a US pledge on emissions cuts for the United Nations climate change summit, in Paris, in December. Yet it would be up to Obama’s successor to implement his plan, which had also attracted strong opposition from the field of Republican presidential candidates.