Arch Coal has started development of a new longwall mine in Barbour County, West Virginia, US, which will have the capacity to produce three million tonnes of High-Vol A coking coal a year.
Coal produced at the new Leer South mine complex will be sold principally into the 300Mmtpa seaborne coking coal market.
To be similar to Arch Coal’s existing Leer longwall mine, the mine will employ nearly 600 employees once fully operational.
Arch Coal CEO John Eaves said: “With the addition of Leer South, Arch will greatly enhance its portfolio of world-class coking coal assets, and cement our position as the premier global producer of High-Vol A coking coal.
“We believe there is significant, unfulfilled global demand for High-Vol A coking coal generally, and our Leer brand specifically, and are already engaged in discussions with leading steel producers around the world that are eager to secure additional volumes of our Leer-brand products.”
Over the next three years, the company expects to invest between $360m and $390m to develop the mine.
The longwall is scheduled to start up in late 2021.
High-Vol A coking coals have high fluidity and superior plasticity and are capable of facilitating the inclusion of a range of coking coals in a steel mill’s coke blend.
According to Arch Coal estimates, the global supply of High-Vol A or equivalent coals total less than 25Mtpa.
The company also plans to convert its Mountain Laurel operation from longwall to room-and-pillar mining at the beginning of next year and move its longwall equipment to Leer South.
Following the transition, Mountain Laurel expects to produce 1.3 million tonnes of High-Vol B coking coal annually.
Arch Coal’s total coking coal production in 2022 is expected to approach nine million tonnes per annum.