Arch Coal has started Longwall mining to produce metallurgical coal at its Leer mine in West Virginia, US, allowing the company to ramp up production in the first quarter of 2014.
Tygart Valley's Leer mine is anticipated to produce more than three million tonnes of coal per year.
Most of the output from the facility will be sold to steel producers engaged in domestic and international metallurgical coal markets.
The company has invested more than $400m to develop the Leer mine, which it claims produces a high-volatile "A" coking coal product that is attracting significant interest in global metallurgical markets.
Arch Coal president and chief executive officer John Eaves said the company's investment in the Leer mine underscores its commitment to West Virginia and its focus on producing the highest quality metallurgical coals to meet needs of global steelmakers.
"With the addition of Leer, we are advancing our long-term, strategic objective of increasing our penetration into domestic and seaborne coking coal markets," Eaves added.
Commenting on the completion of the longwall installation, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said coal continues to be an important foundation for the economic growth of the state and the nation's primary source of energy.
"Arch Coal's investment in the Mountain State not only strengthens our coal industry, it helps create good paying jobs for hardworking West Virginians", Tomblin added.
Arch Coal currently operates six metallurgical and PCI-grade mines in Appalachia, including four in West Virginia.
The company also has significant undeveloped metallurgical coal reserves in the region, which can support additional mine development in the future.
Image: Arch Coal has invested more than $400m to develop the Leer mine. Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.