Thursday, December 31, 2015

Coal seam that produced 'Sixteen Tons' still has potential, new investment, and fresh focus

Merle Travis, and then Tennessee Ernie Ford and many others, sang about a miner's daily production goal of "sixteen tons of Number 9 coal." That's the name of a coal seam in Travis's native Western Kentucky. It's still producing, and is the target of some new mines in a small county that has been known less for coal than for agriculture and the Green River.

Australia's Paringa Resources plans at least one new mine in McLean County (Wikipedia map), where Lexington-based Rhino Resources opened a mine recently as it shut down others in Appalachia, reports Austin Ramsey of the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer: "The Western Kentucky No. 9 Coal Seam, where both county mines operate, could soon become the nation's second largest producer of coal, said Tomasz S. Wiltowski of Southern Illinois University's Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center."

Ramsey reports, "Wiltowski said he believes the Illinois Coal Basin (in blue on map) is preparing to play a center-stage role in an international showdown over energy production and environmental policy. The federal moratorium on construction of coal-fired power plants has hurt the industry nationwide, but the potential in western Kentucky makes for an attractive investor shift back toward nonrenewable energy, he said. Only time will tell what the final results will yield."

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