CHICAGO – As part of his continued pledge to the Illinois coal industry, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $10 million in Opportunity Returns grants to support the start up of a new mine, the major expansion of another mine, as well as several other coal-related projects that will create and sustain hundreds of jobs and further modernize this important industry. This funding comes from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Office of Coal Development, which is supporting 22 projects that will leverage more than $99 million in private investment in the Illinois coal industry.
“In Illinois, we have not wavered in our commitment to support the long-term potential of the state’s coal industry. These coal projects not only fund important mine expansions and safety and environmental improvements, but also bring us another step closer to energy independence by investing in coal, an abundant energy source here in Illinois. Through this grant program, our coal producers are able to take advantage of better prices, explore new markets and deploy the latest clean-coal technology, while also creating good jobs for working families across the state,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Governor is providing $2 million towards the startup costs of the new Royal Falcon Mine, which will take $32 million to complete. Grant funds will be used to purchase underground mining equipment, construct a heavy media preparation plant, develop a boxcut, and purchase a slope belt to transport coal to the preparation plant. This mine will produce 1.2 - 2.0 million tons of low-sulfur coal annually, with sufficient reserves for 20 years of operation.
The Governor has also designated $900,000 towards an $11 million project to expand the American Coal-Galatia Mine North Portal to access a new block of coal. A new slope will be constructed in two phases. Phase 1 includes site preparation, establishing power and installing a man /material shaft and hoist. This project will allow the mine to remain active, employing over 800 workers.
“Governor Blagojevich has maintained a strong commitment to the Illinois coal industry, and every year he has made funding available for expansions and industry growth. Through these grants, we are revitalizing this key sector and advancing essential clean coal technologies,” said State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton).
“These investments go a long way to continue advancing the coal industry in the state, which is providing more jobs and reducing our dependency on foreign energy. My thanks to the Governor for his continued support,” said State Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville).
“Governor Blagojevich and I understand that we must continue to invest in clean coal technologies. These grants allow the coal industry to focus on higher environmental and safety standards, while creating more jobs throughout the region and across the state,” said State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Gifford).
“Coal is an integral part of the Illinois economy, so we must continue to make these investments in clean coal technologies, modernization and mine safety. Gov. Blagojevich and I will continue to support efforts to grow this industry and create more jobs,” said State Rep. Gary Hannig (D-Gillespie).
“We can create good jobs here in Southern Illinois, and these coal grants are an example of the right way to do that. Through these grants, we are moving the coal industry forward, helping the environment and encouraging our Illinois energy sources,” said State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg).
“The Governor continues to be a great advocate for the coal industry. By continuing to invest in projects that are moving this important industry forward, we will continue to create good jobs and make mines safer in the future,” State Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steeleville) said.
“The Governor recognizes the importance of keeping the Illinois coal industry competitive and creating good jobs across central and southern Illinois,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said. “In addition to the state funding, these projects create opportunities for private investment that could otherwise go to other states. We are proud of the coal industry in Illinois and look forward to working with companies, workers, and investors to ensure its vitality.”
Grants are provided through the Illinois Coal Competitiveness Program, which competitively selects projects based on several economic criteria, including the creation or retention of jobs, the deployment of clean coal technology, the private investment dollars leveraged and overall the modernization of operations to sustain coal mining in Illinois for the future. This grant program, redesigned by Gov. Blagojevich in 2003, provides up to 25 percent of the cost of each project. The Coal Competitiveness Program has provided $56.8 million which has leveraged $415.5 million in private investment over the last four years.
Grant recipients include:
American Coal Company – Saline County
Grant: $900,000 – Total project costs: $11,007,000.
American Coal Company received $900,000 to expand the Galatia North Portal to access a new block of coal. A new slope will be constructed in two phases. Phase 1 includes site preparation, establishing power and installing a man /material shaft and hoist. This project will allow the mine to remain active, employing over 800 workers.
Arclar, LLC – Saline County
Two Grants: $880,000 – Total project costs: $7,020,456.
Arclar received two grants – the first was a grant of $360,000 to purchase mandatory safety equipment needed for compliance with new Illinois and Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations. This project will enhance the current safety procedures already in place at the Willow Lake Mine, further reducing the potential for accidents. The second grant of $520,000 will assist with rebuilding underground mining equipment,installing new belt drives and purchasing a new battery scoop. This project will allow the Willow Lake Mine to remain competitive in the medium-sulfur coal market.
Black Beauty Coal Company – Vermillion County
Two Grants: $71,500 – Total project costs: $415,000.
Black Beauty received $60,000 to assist with purchasing mine rescue attire and equipment for two teams (12 people total) at its Vermilion Grove Portal. In addition, a vehicle with trailer to carry two teams to training and off-site emergencies will be acquired. Another grant of $11,500 was earmarked for installation of l a backup system for the preparation plant water supply and upgrading the raw coal crusher electrical circuits. This project will improve the availability and reliability of the raw coal crusher, resulting lower operating costs at the Vermilion Grove Portal.
Coulterville Coal Company – Randolph County
Two Grants: $564,385 – Total project costs: $5,078,381.
Coulterville received $135,385 to be used towards the purchase of safety equipment needed to meet the mandatory levels required by the new Miner Act of 2006. Self-contained self rescuers, life lines for workers to follow out of the mine in case of an emergancy, rescue chambers, a backup communication system, and a cache to haul equipment underground will be purchased for the Gateway Mine. The company received another grant of $429,000 to upgrade aging equipment at the Gateway Mine. Production levels forecast for next few years dictate these upgrades in order to maintain productivity.
Dry Systems Technologies – Johnson County
Grant: $80,000 – Total project costs: $400,000.
Dry Systems Technologies received $80,000 to expand its services and production in southern Illinois and create five new permanent jobs. Dry Systems will build a new fabrication and painting facility for mining equipment rebuilds and an equipment wash facility and labratory for dynometer testing.
ExxonMobil Coal USA, Inc. – Macoupin County
Grant: $332,000 – Total project costs: $1,660,000.
Exxon Mobil received $332,000 to implement underground mine safety improvements with the purchase of respirators, an underground communication system, and a miner tracking system. These improvements will enable the Monterey No. 1 Mine to comply with new state and federal miner safety laws.
Gas Technology Institute – Cook County
Grant: $1,450,000 – Total project costs: $29,897,651.
Gas Technology Institute received $1,450,000 to design, procure and install equipment in its Flex-Fuel Test Facility in Des Plaines. Improvements will enable the research facility to host over $28 million of federally- and privately-funded gasification, coal-to-liquids and fuel cell research.
ICG Illinois, LLC – Sangamon County
Two Grants: $374,750 - Total project costs: $1,499,000.
IGG Illinois, LLC, received $175,000 to install a system for tracking and communicating with miners at all times while in an underground coal mine and install proximity detection devices on underground mining equipment. This project will enhance the current safety procedures already in place at the Viper Mine and
ensure complience with the new Miner Act of 2006. IGG Illinois also received a grant of $199,750 to remodel
an existing building at the Viper Mine for use as a mine rescue training facility and acquire additional miner safety equipment.
Illinois Eastern Community Colleges – Williamson County
Two Grants: $126,000 - Total project costs: $192,000.
Illinois Eastern Community Colleges received $36,000 to purchase 240 trainers in order to comply with the Miner Act requirements to train miners quarterly in the proper procedures for donning self-rescuers, switching from one unit to another, and ensuring a proper fit. This purchase will allow IECC to waive the tuition for self-rescuer training to Illinois miners. In addition, IECC received $90,000 to purchase three additional sets of CBT systems: 1) continuous miner, 2) roof bolter, and 3) longwall miner. These systems can moved from training site to training site, when needed and will be made available to other mine company operators as needed.
Knight Hawk Coal, LLC – Jackson County
Grant: $2 million – Total project costs: $32,280,000.
Knight Hawk Coal received $2,000,000 towards the startup costs of the new Royal Falcon Mine. Grant funds will be used to purchase underground mining equipment, construct a heavy media preparation plant , develop a boxcut, and purchase a slope belt to transport coal to the preparation plant. This mine will produce 1.2 - 2.0 million tons of low-sulfur coal annually, with sufficient reserves for 20 years of operation.
Prairie State Generating Company, LLC – Washington County
Two Grants: $833,000 - Total project costs: $4,165,000.
Prarie State Generating Company, LLC, received $410,500 to construct a distribution substation and overhead electrical power lines at the new Prairie State Energy Campus. The construction of the 1,600 megawatt power plant requires a reliable source of electrical power to serve the plant and the long-term operations at the adjacent Lively Grove underground mine. In addition, Prarie State received $422,500 for upgrades at the Baldwin Substation needed to connect the proposed Prairie State Energy Campus to the electrical grid.
S Coal Company – Jackson County
Grant: $720,000 – Total project costs: $4,418,000.
S Coal Company received $720,000 to purchase equipment needed to expand mining operations down to the No. 5 coal seam. The Elkville Mine currently mines the No 6 coal seam, with the No. 5 seam 30 feet below. This project will increase mine production by 240,000 tons of coal per year.
Shawneetown Regional Port District – Gallatin County
Grant: $700,000 – Total project costs: $6,700,000.
Shawneetown Regional Port District received $700,000 to construct a coal loading facility on the Ohio River. Equipment purchases include a coal dump hopper, an end loader, a bulldozer, 1700 linear feet of 48-inch-wide coal beltline with supporting structures, a barge loading structure and three working barges.
South Central Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission – Fayette County
Grant: $41,500 – Total project costs: $221,500.
South Central Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission received $41,500 to conduct a five-county area study to implement a land-use evaluation and assessment modeling program. The study will assist local governments with land-use evaluations and assessment modeling, enabling them to project the impacts of major investments in the region by the coal industry.
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale – Jackson County
Grant: $200,000 – Total project costs: $250,000.
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale received $200,000 to conduct a feasibility study on the construction and operation of a coal gasification power plant at the Carbondale campus. The project will address regulatory analysis, cost analysis, site and resource requirements, economic and environmental implications and permitting issues.
White County Coal LLC – White County
Grant: $725,800 – Total project costs: $3,629,000.
White County, LLC, received $725,800 to purchase 12 Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) shuttle cars for the Pattiki Mine. VFD cars use less power, require lower maintenance, have less down time, and are able to travel over muddy bottoms. The mine will benefit from cost savings and increased productivity.