North Antelope Rochelle Mine

From Global Energy Monitor

North Antelope Rochelle Mine (NARM) is a surface coal mine, operated by Powder River Coal LLC, a subsidiary of Peabody Energy, producing 98.3 million short tons per annum, 65 miles south of Gillette, in Campbell County, Wyoming, United States.

Location

The satellite map below shows the location of the mine in Campbell County, Wyoming.

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Mine Details

  • MSHA ID: 4801353
  • Start Year: 1999 (North Antelope mine: 1983; Rochelle mine: 1984)
  • Operator: Powder River Coal LLC
  • Controller: Peabody Energy
  • Location: Campbell County, Wyoming, United States
  • GPS Coordinates: 43.527140, -105.270625 (exact)
  • Production (short tons): 98,315,794 (2018)[1]
  • Coal Type: Subbituminous[1]
  • Mining Type: Surface
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees: 1,135
  • Mine Size: 5,344 acres
  • Recoverable reserves: 723 million tons permitted [2] (1.7 billion tons, total, not including expansions)[3]
  • Mine Status: Operating

Background

North Antelope Rochelle Mine sits in the Powder River Basin. The Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana is the largest low-sulfur coal source in the nation. Eight of the ten largest mines in the United States are located in the basin.[4] Peabody Energy opened the North Antelope Mine in the heart of Wyoming's Powder River Basin in 1983. The Rochelle mine was opened in 1984. They were combined in 1999, making the largest coal mine in the United States.[4]

In 2017, the NARM had the highest annual production of any single coal mine in the world.[4]

In August 2020, Peabody wrote down the value of the North Antelope Rochelle mine by US$1.4 billion and reported a US$1.5 billion loss for the second quarter of 2020. The company blamed the loss on declining demand due to coal plant retirements, low gas prices and increased renewable generation. Peabody Energy’s Chief Financial Officer, Mark Spurbeck, said the company expected US coal generation to remain lower than in previous years. The company said that it had also cut 1,000 jobs in recent months. Shannon Anderson from the Powder River Basin Resource Council said the company’s loss indicated Wyoming coal production is in long-term decline and the state’s leaders need to “think about what comes next for our communities, coal miners, and our revenue streams.”[5]

Production

Annual production at North Antelope Rochelle was 109.3 million tons in 2015, 107.7 million tons in 2012, 109.0 million tons in 2011, and 105.8 million tons in 2010, making the North Antelope Rochelle the largest producer of coal in the United States. Recoverable reserves are 1,245 million tons. The average quality of the coal shipped from the mine is 8,800 BTU/lb, 0.2% sulfur, 4.40% ash, and 1.70% sodium (of the ash), making North Antelope Rochelle coal the cleanest in the United States. In 2012 the mine won an award from the Department of the Interior for its reclamation efforts over the life of the mine.

The North Rochelle-Antelope mine shipped 10 million short tons of coal in March 2011, which set a monthly production record for the mine. The mine, while the largest operation in the country, is the second largest in the U.S. as measured by production numbers, loading 641 trains with a total of 10 million tons of coal, according to Peabody's vice president of transportation, John Hull. The mine usually produces 8 to 9 million tons a month.[6]

In its February 6, 2019 earnings release, Peabody announced that in the face of recent operational setbacks and troubling global economic indicators, it would be focusing on "value over volume" with sharp reductions in U.S. thermal coal production but increased attention to its metallurgical coal operations in the U.S. and Australia, as well as the country's thermal mines. Peabody plans to reduce the target volume for 2019 coal production from its North Antelope Rochelle mine by 10 million tons compared to 2018 levels. The mine produced 98.3 million tons of coal in 2018 from the Powder River Basin and accounted for about 13.1% of all U.S. coal production in 2017.[7]

Expansion

In September 2006, BTU Western Resources, Inc. (BTU), a subsidiary of Peabody Energy, filed an application with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for federal coal leases in three maintenance tracts encompassing over 5,000 acres and nearly 600 million tons of coal. The tracts are located adjacent to the North Antelope Rochelle Mine and are designed to extend the mine's size and its life by up to 10 years.

In October 2007, BTU filed a request with the BLM to modify its application and increase the lease area and coal volume to approximately nearly 9,000 acres and 1.2 million tons of coal. BLM determined that the application would be processed as two separate leasing tracts: North Porcupine lease and South Porcupine lease.[8]

North Porcupine extension

North Porcupine is a proposed 6,300 acre coal lease of 721 million tons in the Powder River Basin near Wright, Wyoming, designed to increase the life of Peabody Energy's existing North Antelope Rochelle Mine. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held an auction in June 2012 for the coal. The lease was drawn up by Peabody itself, in what is known as a “lease by application,” and Peabody also offered its own price.[9] The final bid was $1.10 per ton.[10]

South Porcupine extension

South Porcupine is a proposed coal lease in the Powder River Basin near Wright, Wyoming, designed to increase the life of Peabody Energy's existing North Antelope Rochelle Mine. Peabody’s initial offer of $0.90 per ton was rejected as too low by the BLM, which held another auction a few weeks later and accepted Peabody’s offer of $1.11 per ton. In both auctions Peabody was the only bidder.[11]

Controversy

According to the BLM's Record of Decision for the South Porcupine lease, “the public interest is served by leasing the South Porcupine tract because doing so provides a reliable, continuous supply of stable and affordable energy for consumers throughout the country.” Yet as Greenpeace notes: "At a time when coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation has dropped 19% in one year to just 36%, and Peabody’s CEO is touting plans to profit from 'the global coal supercycle,'...how exactly is it in the 'best interests of the Nation' to sell coal that belongs to U.S. taxpayers at a discount so Peabody can strip mine and ship it to Asia?"[12]

In November 2017, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) over the approved coal leases. The conservation groups said that Peabody Energy’s North and South Porcupine leases were improperly approved, and that the company should no longer be allowed to mine there. The complaint calls on OSMRE to investigate the leases, which were signed by a district manager of the Bureau of Land Management rather than a state manager.[13]

Peabody sues over well blocking expansion of Powder River Basin coal mine

In June 2011, Peabody sued over an oil and gas well that was in the way of a coal mine they own in the Powder River Basin. Peabody Energy, through its wholly owned subsidiary BTU Western Resources Inc., sued a part-owner of the well in federal court in Wyoming in late June 2011, claiming the owner unreasonably rejected a deal to allow expansion of the company’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine.

Peabody sued Wild Hare LLC, whose registered agent was Burton K. Reno Jr. However, Reno said Wild Hare LLC is not the owner of the well, just a Wyoming corporation with a name similar to Wild Hare Limited Partnership, which Reno said is the well’s true owner.[14]

North Porcupine Project Expansion Details

  • Status: Operating
  • Production Capacity:
  • Mineable Reserves: 601 million tons[15]
  • Mine Expansion Size: 6,364 acres[16]
  • Start Year: 2014
  • Source of Financing:

South Porcupine Project Expansion Details

  • Status: Operating
  • Production Capacity:
  • Mineable Reserves: 310 million tons
  • Mine Expansion Size: 3,243 acres
  • Start Year: 2014
  • Source of Financing:

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "EIA table 9 major US coal mines 2018" EIA.gov accessed June 2020
  2. John T. Boyd Company, Powder River Basin Coal Resource Cost Study, September 2011
  3. North Antelope Rochelle Mine, Peabody Energy website, accessed October 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 North Antelope Rochelle Mine Wikipedia, accessed October 2019.
  5. Gregory Meyer, Neil Hume, "Value of world’s largest coal mine slashed by $1.4bn", The Financial Times, Aug. 5, 2020.
  6. "Report: Powder River Basin coal mine sets production record" Jeremy Fugleberg, Star-Tribune, April 13, 2011.
  7. "Peabody emphasis on 'value over volume' leads to cuts at U.S. thermal coal mines" S&P Global Market Intelligence, Feb. 6, 2019.
  8. "Record of Decision: Environmental Impact Statement for the South Porcupine Coal Lease Application WYW176095," BLM, August 2011.
  9. Joe Smyth, "The BLM’s Corrupt Coal Leasing Program: Billions In Subsidies To Peabody, Gigatons Of Carbon Pollution For The Rest Of Us," Climate Progress, June 22, 2012.
  10. Brad Johnson, "BLM ‘Auctions’ 720-Million-Ton North Porcupine Coal Tract To Single Bidder For $1.10 A Ton," Climate Progress, June 29, 2012.
  11. Joe Smyth, "The BLM’s Corrupt Coal Leasing Program: Billions In Subsidies To Peabody, Gigatons Of Carbon Pollution For The Rest Of Us," Climate Progress, June 22, 2012.
  12. Joe Smyth, "Will the Bureau of Land Management subsidize Peabody’s plans to export coal to Asia?" Greenpeace, May 15, 2012.
  13. "Conservation Groups Argue Peabody Leases Were Improperly Approved" Wyoming Public Media, Nov. 21, 2017.
  14. "Peabody sues over well blocking expansion of Powder River Basin coal mine" Jeremy Fugleberg, Billings Gazette, June 26, 2011.
  15. Notice of Availability of the Wright Area Coal Final Environmental Impact Statement That Includes Four Federal Coal Lease-by-Applications, Wyoming U.S. Federal Register, July 30, 2010.
  16. Mining Plan Approval U.S. Department of the Interior OSMRE, March 14, 2014.

External links

Wikipedia also has an article on the North Antelope Rochelle Mine (North Antelope Rochelle Mine). This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.