HOPKINS CO. Ky. (WFIE) - Alliance Coal wants to change how they drill coal in Hopkins County.
The new method could increase how much coal the mine can produce.
“It increases how much coal they can produce, and it decreases the cost,” said Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield.
Alliance wants to try Retreat Mining. Judge Whitfield said Alliance Coal presented the idea to the fiscal court last week.
Here’s how it works: Miners create tunnels, leaving pillars to support them. On their way back out of the mine, they’ll mine those pillars.
Whitfield said that could increase coal production by at least 20 percent and more coal means more coal severance pay.
“The coal severance is based on the amount of coal produced in Hopkins County,” said Whitfield. “So if coal production goes up, then the severance money the county would receive goes up as well.”
As the pillars are mined, The Judge-Executive said Alliance is focused on safety. The Judge-Executive said if something were to happen to a tunnel under a county road, Alliance agrees to pay for the damages, but Whitfield doesn’t anticipate an issue.
“One warrior is about 1,000 feet deep, so if you do have falls, by the time it gets to the surface, that unconsolidated fall just won’t fall all the way to the surface, we don’t think,” Whitfield explained. “Also, they have a thick seem of limestone in that area. And limestone is very strong, so it is doubtful that if it were to fall in that area it would fall past that limestone.”
As a former coal miner himself, Whitfield said he thinks this could be good for the county.
The Judge-Executive told 14 News he thinks they’ll put the agreement to a vote at their October 15 meeting.