Derry Township coal mine holds promise of jobs
Jobs at the new Kingston West coal mine in Derry Township could increase from 50 to more than 300 during an initial phase of development that could extend over a decade.
If additional phases are developed, that lifespan could expand threefold, mine developer Jim Cooper told an overflow crowd last Thursday at an informational meeting about the project in the Derry Township municipal building.
"I hope to have 20 to 30 years out of this mine," said Cooper, owner of Virginia-based C & D Coal Company. "The coal is there."
After more than three years in the planning and permitting stages, the deep mine could begin operation within three to six months, according to James Marino, project director for the site's engineering consultant, CME Engineering of Latrobe.
Initial earth-moving work has begun at the mine entrance off Route 981 and Lee Valley Road, and sedimentation ponds are in place to capture and treat runoff or any water pumped from the mine before it reaches tributaries to nearby Loyalhanna Creek.
C & D has obtained state permits for 10 surface acres at the entrance and 999 underground acres stretching mostly north and east toward Keystone State Park and the village of Superior.
The township supervisors set up last week's meeting so that the mining company and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection could field questions about the project from concerned residents.
Echoing the comments of several others in the audience, Delano Beck, who lives along Route 981 about a quarter mile from the mine site, expressed concern about potential damage to his home and water supply.
Beck said he'd had a bad experience with blasting during a previous mining operation in the area.
"We lost our well last time, and the coal company wouldn't put it back," he said. "Our home really took a terrible blast."
Cooper said his company plans to conduct a minimum of blasting at Kingston West, noting it initially will be excavating down through the remains of a previous strip mine.
"We don't use dynamite unless it's an emergency," he said — for instance, if a rock fall would trap men or equipment in the mine. He said some blasting may also be required to smooth out a jagged overhang that was left from the previous mining operation and would otherwise pose a hazard to his mining crews.
Cooper said his company has mapped out the location of all known water wells in the permit area. In accordance with law, any such water source that is affected would have to be restored or replaced by the company.
Others in attendance were concerned about mine subsidence.
Cooper said the initial phase of mining will penetrate beneath an area with many homes. So, the company will be leaving sizable pillars to maintain roof support between the rooms left behind by coal extraction.
As a result, he said, "We're actually only getting 60 percent of the coal." Still, he estimated that could amount to a total of about 30 million tons.
He said the coal from Keystone West initially will be shipped to power plants but he hopes to add a coal cleaning plant at the site that would enable him to market it to the steel industry.
Cooper revealed that he is pursuing other potential coal mine sites in the Fairfield section of Westmoreland County and in the area of Chestnut Ridge, but permitting is not yet in place for those locations.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- World traveler to share experiences in Indiana County Parks programs
- Indiana Area High School Eco Club takes action for the environment
- Homer City man charged in fatal crash
- IUP backtracks on per-credit tuition plan
- Blairsville Farmers Market to expand hours
- Elderly Indiana County man dies in tractor accident
- United approves contract for extending natural gas service to high school
- Blairsville-Saltsburg School Board debates early Friday dismissal