Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coal company owner sees future and profit in Illinois coal

King coal may have a new figurehead, emerging not from central Appalachia or the Powder River Basin, but instead from Illinois, home to what was long been thought of as "dirty" coal. In 2002, Chris Cline spent $300 million on mining rights, land and equipment in Illinois, betting that dwindling coal reserves in Central Appalachia and future Environmental Protection Agency action would force coal-fired plants to clean all coal, John Lippert and Mario Parker of Bloomberg report. "If plants had to clean the coal anyway, Cline reasoned, why not use inexpensive Illinois stock?" the reporters write. (Chris Cline, owner of Foresight Energy, Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer)

Three years later, EPA "required power plants to add scrubbers to cut emissions, reviving the stagnant market for high-sulfur coal," Lippert and Parker report. "The value of Illinois deposits quintupled during the next five years, helping Cline raise $1.2 billion to build the mines that he’s now parlaying into a fortune." Cline is principal owner of private company Foresight Energy LLC and until talking to Bloomberg, had never spoken to the media. Foresight ships 11 million tons of coal a year and Cline estimates the company could ship as much as 80 million tons by 2018.

Cline recently abandoned his no-media policy to help the coal industry improve its public image. "We in the industry probably do the worst job in the world getting out the story of the good lives we’re helping people live," Cline told Bloomberg. "Changing that is certainly a big interest of mine." If Foresight goes public next year Cline forecasts the company would be worth $3 billion at initial public offering and the value would double by 2013.

Cline had an interesting description of arguably the coal industry's most visible representative, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. "Don thinks his convictions are morally correct and follows them," Cline told Bloomberg. "In some ways, people should admire it. They should also think, 'Maybe there’s a way to not be a bull in a china shop.'" Cline told Bloomberg he is amazed mountaintop removal is profitable, noting his underground mines "have less environmental impact." (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As a Son of an Underground Iron Ore Miner of the Gogebic Range dating back to the 1930's and 1940's having hung out around the mine shafts and lived amongst the miners, Chris Cline is approaching the PEOPLE ( WHO EVENTUALLY WILL GET BEHIND HIM) incorrectly.