Rustic Ridge Mine seeks to hire, move toward full production |
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Joe Napsha

A Cambria County mining company has put out a “help wanted” sign for its Rustic Ridge Mine that lies underneath parts of the Donegal area.

LCT Energy LP of Armagh is seeking to increase employment at Rustic Ridge Mine from 37 to about 100 miners as it moves toward full production, said Gil Widenhofer, a vice president for Robindale Energy Services & Associated Companies in Latrobe. The employment level at the mine depends on the demand for the metallurgical coal mined there.

LCT Energy LP, one of the Robindale companies, wants to hire both experienced and inexperienced underground miners for jobs as mechanics, electricians, foremen, mine examiners and operators, roof bolters and scoop operators.

Non-experienced miners will undergo a training program, Widenhofer said.

The mine’s slope has been developed, providing access to the coal that is underneath Donegal Township in Westmoreland County and Saltlick Township in Fayette County. LCT Energy is developing the area at the bottom of the slope, which includes mining the coal, Widenhofer said.

“We will continue to increase production over the next several months,” Widenhofer said.

When the company applied a few years ago for operating permits from the state, it said it wanted to extract millions of tons of coal over a 15- to 20-year period.

It projected mining more than 2,900 acres in that area that contains about 18 million tons of metallurgical coal.

LCT Energy says on its website that it produces 850,000 tons of coal annually from two Somerset County mines — Cass and Maple Springs — with about 80 employees. It describes Rustic Ridge as a world class project holding metallurgical coal that is burnt in coke ovens to remove impurities and then used to produce steel.

Before the start of production, LCT Energy officials had said the company would invest $50 million to develop the mine.

With employment expected to hit 120 jobs, the mine was projected to pump $200 million into the area’s economy.

Environmental concerns

A local environmental organization, the Mountain Watershed Association in Melcroft, has opposed the mine development, fearful of the impact on property values and air pollution.

Before a state environmental hearing in January 2018, the association reached an agreement with LCT Energy that would expand the distance between the old Melcoft mine and Rustic Ridge mining activities from 800 feet to 1,400 feet, as well as install a meter to detect any changes that would protect the watershed from unwanted discharges into the watershed.

The organization also got LCT Energy to reduce the amount of outflow it was permitted by the state to dump into Champion Creek. The Mountain Watershed group was concerned the amount of water discharged into the stream might overwhelm it and the watershed.

Mountain Watershed President Beverly Braverman could not be reached for comment.

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