South Heart Lignite Mine

From Global Energy Monitor

The South Heart Lignite Mine (SHLM) is a proposed strip mine by South Heart Coal (SHC) of over 7000 acres, about 13 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Mining would be for low-grade lignite coal, to be used at on-site coal gasification plant, the South Heart Power Project.[1]

In November 2010 the company resubmitted its application for a state mining permit. According to SHC's 2010 application with the North Dakota Public Service Commission: "The SHLM is being developed by SHC to produce coal for market. The mine plan described in this application has been designed specifically to provide coal to a planned commercial-scale gasification plant that would be located adjacent to the mine. 2014 is currently planned as the year that initial mine development and mining will commence. Ongoing engineering evaluations of the planned commercial-scale gasification plant indicate that a mine production rate of 2.4 million tons of coal per year will be required to fully support the plant. Where there are specific revisions to tonnages, the schedule for mining and reclamation, or any other changes specific to coal delivery that require permit revision, operations revisions to address the changes will be submitted to the PSC for approval." (p. 1)

If all permits are approved, the mine could be North Dakota's first in 30 years.[2] The mine would produce approximately 2.4 million tons of coal each year for 30 years. The North Dakota's Public Service Commission is reviewing the company's second application.[3]

On November 30, 2010, North Dakota state regulators said that the permit application for the coal mine was deficient and they returned the document to developers for a second time requesting more information on reclamation, financing, mining facilities and water impacts.[4]

On January 12, 2011, state officials said South Heart’s permit application for the nearly 4,600-acre strip South Heart Mine is complete and the company also intends to construct a power plant, the South Heart Power Project, next door. The coal company’s previous permit applications were deemed deficient, including areas in surface water, coal mine reclamation, business entity information and operation plans. The application’s completeness does not mean a permit is approved.[5]

SHED is proposing a $2.2 billion project that would turn North Dakota lignite into syngas, which would be used for a 175 megawatt, combined-cycle electric plant. Rich Southwick, environmental vice president for GNPD, said the coal plant will process 2.4 million tons per year. While the coal gasification process in the original plans would have converted the coal gasification to methane, it will instead be converted to hydrogen, Southwick said. The captured carbon will then be piped to oil fields in the Williston Basin for enhanced oil recovery.[5]

The facility is intended to serve electric power needs of people and industries of North Dakota and the Upper Midwest, according to the letter of intent. Southwick said the 350-acre plant would take about four years to construct. Construction is not expected to commence before July 2013.[5]

In 2015, the coal testing plant located five miles south of South Heart and operated by GTL Energy USA was closed. The plant was built to demonstrate the company's beneficiation technology, which removes water from lignite coal. The plant equipment will be moved to Indonesia. Opponents of the South Heart Lignite Mine declared the departure of the testing plant a victory in their campaign to stop a large mine in South Heart.[6]

With no progress in developing a mine in over four years, the project appears to be abandoned.

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  1. "Lignite Mine permit", accessed November 2010.
  2. "Coal plant permit back on table iStockAnaluist, November 5, 2010.
  3. "Company seeks new coal mine in southwest ND" Associated Press, March 31, 2010.
  4. James MacPherson, "North Dakota regulators: Coal mine permit lacking" Bloomberg, Nov. 30, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lisa Anne Call, "Coal mine finishes application process" The Dickinson Press, January 13, 2011.
  6. "Coal testing site near South Heart ceasee operation," Dickinson Press, October 14, 2015