ODNR: Murray’s Century Mine is already the largest in Ohio

BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio — Murray American Energy plans to ask Ohio regulators next year to approve additional acreage to extend the life of the company’s Century underground thermal coal mine in Monroe County, the largest mine in the state.

Gary Broadbent, assistant general counsel for the St. Clairsville-based company, said in an email that a permit application probably would be filed in May with the ODNR’s Division of Resources Management. The extension presumably would lengthen Century’s life by several years.

Murray’s American Energy subsidiary, which operates the Century mine, apparently is in no rush for the permit because it is thought to have a couple of years of mining left under existing permits.

Century produced 3.6 million tons of high-sulfur coal in the first nine months of 2016. It is Murray’s only active mine in Ohio following the recent closure of the Powhatan No. 6 underground mine in Belmont County.

Powhatan, operated by Murray’s Ohio Valley Coal subsidiary, was shut down after it ran out of economically recoverable reserves.

Sources say Murray has notified the agency that a major permit application would be coming.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said last week that Ohio sold 16.4 million tons of thermal coal in 2015, well below its average of 25 million tons in recent years. Last year’s total coal sales represented $752 million, the first year since 2007 they were below $1 billion.

Belmont County was Ohio’s largest coal producer in 2015, followed by Harrison and Perry counties.