Coal production down for Walter Industries

Coal production down for Walter Industries

Walter Industries Inc.’s mining division produced 1.2 million tons of metallurgical coal for the quarter ended June 30. It traditionally produces more than 7 million tons of coal a year in its three mines in Alabama.

Specifically, Mine No. 4 produced less tonnage than its historic quarterly averages, primarily due to a longwall move and reduced production from temporary roof control issues, a release said.

Longwall mining is form of underground coal mining where a long wall (about 250-400 meters long typically) of coal is mined in a single slice (typically 1-2 meters thick), according to Wikipedia. The longwall “panel” (the block of coal that is being mined) is typically 3-4 kilometers long and 250-400 meters wide. The longwall equipment consists of a number of hydraulic jacks, called chocks, roof supports or shields, which are placed in a long line up to 400 meters in length in order to support the roof.

In particular, the company said significantly reduced longwall advance rates at Mine No. 4 resulted from a thin coal seam in the initial portion of a new panel, which led to difficult roof conditions.

In mid July, Mine No. 4’s longwall advanced to an area of its current panel where seam thickness and roof conditions are more consistent with the company’s experience in an adjacent panel. The company expects Mine No. 4 to produce approximately 1.4 to 1.5 million tons in the second half of 2006, the release said.

Walter Industries expects full-year coal production to be in the range of 6.2 million to 6.4 million tons of coal, which represents a reduction from prior full-year expectations of 6.7 million tons. This expectations range excludes production from its Kodiak Mining joint venture, Walter said.

Walter Industries (NYSE: WLT – News) is a diversified company, based in Tampa with consolidated annual revenues of approximately $3.1 billion.

Published July 28, 2006 by the Tampa Bay Business Journal

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