Developer signs coal leaseadmin
OAKLAND – The developer of the proposed coal-to-diesel plant in the Oakland area has signed a lease to mine local coal to supply the plant.
Energy development company American Clean Coal Fuels of Vancouver, Wash., signed the lease Wednesday with the Embarras Valley Coal Association.
”This is a major step forward,” said American Clean Coal Fuels President Stephen Johnson, who added that the lease has been in the works for a year. ”It’s a major milestone, but it will be the first of many. We have a long process ahead of us still.”
Johnson said the next step in the process will be preliminary engineering and design work, title work, and surveying for the plant and coal mine. He said this will determine the exact location of the plant and mine entrance.
Once the preliminary engineering is completed, Johnson said American Clean Coal Fuels will apply for air and mining permits from the state. He said the state would also require that an environmental impact study be conducted.
”We should be in a position to start working on the permits I would guess nine months out. This is a rough estimate, ”Johnson said.
Johnson estimated that all of the engineering and design work required for the project would take up to 2 1/2 years to complete.
”We are still anticipating opening the plant in early to mid-2012,” Johnson said. ”We need to get the mine going before the plant.”
American Clean Coal Fuels officials have reported its plant would convert 4.3 million tons of coal into 385 million gallons of synthetic diesel fuel annually and create 600 full-time jobs. Johnson said 400 of the jobs would be at the plant and 200 would be at the mine.
The developer has secured a 20-year coal supply for its plant from the Embarras Valley Coal Association.
Association Chairman Joe McCoskey of Hindsboro said about 85 percent of the approximately 180-member property owners cast ”yes” votes for the mining lease late last month. He said at least 66 percent of the membership needed to vote ”yes” for the lease to win approval.
The coal association encompasses properties in an area that runs from Hugo in the northwest to Isabel in the southeast, crossing Douglas, Coles and Edgar county lines. The group has been trying to market the coal underneath its property owners’ land for many years.
”˜We are really enthused about this. This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” McCoskey said of the mine and coal-to-diesel plant project.