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New met coal mine planned in Westmoreland County

July 17, 2014

LCT Energy plans to open an underground metallurgical coal mine in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, for the domestic and export markets, officials said Thursday.

The Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based company, a subsidiary of Robindale Energy, recently filed a permit application for the Rustic Ridge No. 1 mine with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, according to DEP spokesman John Poister.

Poister said the agency accepted the permit on June 20 and that it will begin a technical review of the permit that could last for several months.

A public hearing on the permit could be held late this year, he added, although it likely will be 2015 at the earliest before DEP issues a final decision.

CME Engineering's Joe Lloyd, who is handling the permitting process for LCT, said in an interview that Rustic Ridge would be a room-and-pillar operation covering close to 3,000 underground acres.

While actual production figures have not been determined, he said the mine most likely would produce somewhat less than 1 million st a year at first while having the potential to surpass that amount if warranted by sales.

Lloyd said LCT hopes to be issued a state permit sometime in 2015. If so, the mine conceivably could be in production before the end of next year.

According to Lloyd, LCT currently produces met coal from two mines in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The company's Brubaker underground mine turned out 98,661 st in the first quarter of 2014 and 323,533 st in 2013, US Mine Safety and Health Administration figures show.

Officials with LCT and Robindale, based in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, were unavailable for comment.

In terms of permitting activity, Poister said DEP is "seeing a little bit of an increase where metallurgical coal is available. There's a feeling that that's where the demand for coal will be going forward."

Amfire Mining's permit application for a new underground mine still is pending at DEP, Poister noted. Amfire is a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources of Bristol, Virginia.