Mining the latest on the coal industry

Record production numbers
Blaschak Coal Corp. of Mahanoy City has mined yet another coal-production record – surpassing last year’s record mark in less than nine months.

In 2011, the 75-year-old coal company announced that its “run of mine” coal production exceeded 642,000 tons. Through the third quarter of 2012, Blaschak’s run of mine coal production has surpassed 680,000 tons.
The company expects that number to grow to beyond 800,000 tons by the end of the year.
Based in the heart of Northeastern Pennsylvania coal country, Blaschak sits atop the largest known anthracite field in North America.
According to the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, there are 4-6 billion tons of reserves of anthracite left in the Northeastern Pennsylvania region.
Blaschak’s increase in production led to more than 40 new jobs being added over the last two years. Blaschak now employs approximately 150 workers, with further growth anticipated in 2013.
Will coal experience a rebirth?
Right now, it’s difficult to say until after the General Election, said Duane Feagley, executive director of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, a trade organization based in Pottsville.
“Right now the gas prices are very competitive,” said Feagley. “It’s impacted our market a little but not much.”
Bill promotes growth
State Rep. Mike Tobash said a new bill he helped create would increase the supply of coal in Pennsylvania and free up some funds that were previously unavailable.
“We are going to free up capital for equipment and job creation,” said Tobash, a prime sponsor of House Bill 1813, which the House of Representatives passed Oct. 17, the Senate approved Oct. 18 and Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Oct. 22.
“The industry has been unfairly characterized as a polluter because of past practices,” Tobash told Lehigh Valley Business. “There’s no question in my mind that this will help.”
Mining standards have improved and now, according to Tobosh, the industry is very mindful of the environment and has more resources to reclaim previously disturbed land.
House Bill 1813 amends Pennsylvania’s Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation regulations to provide for the use of Land Reclamation Financial Guarantees for new and re-mining projects, said Tobash.
The bill also codifies the source of funds for Acid Mine Discharges that have been ordered by the courts. The bill will help mine reclamation efforts, lower electric generation costs and create jobs, he added.
Since it is difficult for coal producers in the anthracite region to get bonds, this bill would help them get the funds they need.
“We’ve got technology now that allows us to get energy from lots of different areas,” said Tobosh.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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