Liberty Mine

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Liberty Mine, formerly known as the Squaw Creek Mine, was a surface mine owned by Alcoa Co. and White Stallion Energy near Boonville, Warrick County Indiana. It produced bituminous coal to supply the power station in a nearby aluminum plant owned and operated by Alcoa. The mine closed in 2019.

Location

The map below shows the location of the mine.

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Background

Squaw Creek Coal Company (SCCC) was established in 1960 as a joint venture between Alcoa inc. and Peabody Coal Company to mine coal in Warrick county. The coal extracted from the surface mine was used to power a nearby Alcoa aluminum factory.[1] The mine was closed in 1998.[2] Alcoa inc. used the mine property to dump waste from its aluminum plant between 1965 and 1979 while the mine was operational. This was the subject of a later lawsuit [1] Before Squaw Creek Mine was closed, it was producing 1.3 million tons, and had 139 employees.[3]

Alcoa and Peabody applied for a permit to re-open the mine in 2004 as Liberty Mine[2] in order to fuel the expansion of Alcoa's aluminum plant.[4] The permit application led to a lawsuit between Alcoa and former Squaw Creek Mine workers who claimed that the proposed mine would expose workers to toxic waste dumped by the company in the late 60s and 70s.[2] In 2007, Peabody transferred its share of the joint venture to a subsidiary that it set up, Patriot Coal.[5] Liberty Mine started production in 2013, with Vigo Coal Operating Co., a subsidiary of Patriot Coal, as its operator.[3].[6]

Liberty applied for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification to allow it to place fill into waters of the State of Indiana. According to an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) notice released in April 2011, Liberty Mine plans to place the debris from the mine in nearby streams, forested and unforested wetlands, and open water. The issue is whether the proposed fill request meets regulations of Indiana under the Indiana Administrative Code (327 IAC 2) and other state laws, as well as the federal Clean Water Act. Affected areas include Squaw Creek and its tributaries as well as forested and unforested wetlands.[7]

Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and its assets were auctioned.[4] In 2016, White Stallion Energy bought Vigo Coal. White Stallion Energy was founded in 2012 with shared ownership by Patriot Coal and American Patriot Holdings. After Patriot Coal's bankruptcy, its stake in White Stallion was taken over by Patriot's parent company Peabody Coal.[8]

The Liberty Mine was closed in 2019, after Alcoa announced that it was going to buy the coal to fuel its plant from elsewhere. The announcement came as a result of months of sparring between Alcoa and the city officials of Boonville and local residents about protections in the mine. At the time of its closure, it was reported that its reserves were nearly depleted.[4]

In 2018, the last complete calendar year for which it was operational, Liberty Mine produced 0.26 million tons, and employed 86 workers. [3]

White Stallion Energy filed for bankruptcy in 2020.[9]



Mine Data

  • MSHA id: 1202428 (Liberty) 1200336 (Squaw Creek)
  • Owner: Alcoa and White Stallion Energy
  • Operator: Vigo Coal Operating Co.
  • Location: Boonville, IN
  • GPS coordinates: 38.090215,-87.349101
  • Production: Closed
  • Type of coal: Bituminous [3]
  • Mine type: Surface
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees: 86 (2018)[3]
  • Recoverable Reserves: 0.26 (2018)[3]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Musgrave v. Squaw Creek Coal Co". casetext. Court of Appeals of Indiana. March 21, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dudar, Hasan (April 9, 2011). "Miners voice concerns with proposed Southern Indiana coal mine". News and Tribune. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 U.S. department of labor, MSHA, Mine Data Retrieval System, accessed June 6 2021
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Martin, John (February 19, 2019). "Liberty Mine in Warrick County to close, following Alcoa move to buy from other sources". Courier & Press. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  5. McGallis, Alex (April 13, 2017). "The Plot to Make Retired Coal Miners Broke". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  6. Becker, Amanda (October 7, 2015). "Patriot Coal withdraws Alcoa deal as bankruptcy talks continue". Reuters. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  7. Lani Ethridge, "Squaw Creek / Liberty surface coal mine water quality permit hearing" Examiner, April 7, 2011.
  8. John T Hanou (2016) More consolidation in the Illinois Basin? . Hanou Energy Consulting. Report.
  9. Endale, Brook (December 3, 2020). "White Stallion Energy files for bankruptcy, terminates all 260 employees". Courrier Press. Evansville. Retrieved June 9, 2021.