Deer Run Mine

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

Deer Run Mine near Hillsboro in Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois was permitted in 2009 to Hillsboro Energy, LLC, an affiliate of the Cline Group. According to the Cline Group, the mine has the potential to produce roughly 8 to 10 million tons per year when the longwall mining is in full production. The estimated life of the mine is expected to exceed 20 years. The coal reserves at the mine are leased to the mining company Hillsboro Energy.[1]

Coal reserve purchases

In February 2012, Natural Resource Partners made its fifth -- out of the planned seven -- purchase of coal reserves at the Deer Run mine. The company bought the reserves from Colt LLC, an affiliate of the Cline Group. Natural Resource indicated that the construction of the new longwall mine is underway, and the company expects to start digging for coal in early 2012. Going forward, Natural Resource expects net income from the mine to exceed $40 million per year from the mine.[1][2]

To date, Natural Resource has paid $215 million of the $255 million slated for the acquisition of approximately 200 million tons of reserves. Natural Resource Partners L.P. is principally engaged in owning and managing mineral reserve properties. The company owns coal reserves and coal handling and transportation infrastructure in Appalachia, the Illinois Basin and the Powder River Basin.[1][3]

Environmental permits

As of November 2011, publicly available data shows the mine has violated its water pollution permit 24 times.[4]

Digging begins, despite legal challenge

In April 2011, the Cline Group began digging at the site. The early production is “development coal” that must be removed to allow construction of the underground mine. The mine remains the subject of a 2-year-old appeal of its operating permit. The appeal was filed by a group of landowners called Citizens Against Longwall Mining in early 2009, who contend the longwall mining method to be used at Deer Run will hurt farmland values, filing the appeal after the Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved an operating permit for Deer Run mine. The group argues that longwall mining will damage farmland by causing long-term mine subsidence. Brian Perbix of the Prairie Rivers Network/Sierra Club said opponents are hoping for a decision this summer 2011. He added that opponents believe there is still time to halt the operation. Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Januri Smith said the administrative review remains in the discovery process and that a timeline has not been set for a ruling.[5]

Coal slurry impoundment

According to Citizens Against Longwall Mining (CALM), when Hillsboro Energy, LLC got the go-ahead to build the coal mine, the permit application approved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Mines and Minerals made no mention of a coal slurry impoundment to be located within the city of Hillsboro, despite questions by local residents. yet in November 2011 it was revealed that the mine will store hundreds of millions of gallons of coal slurry – the liquid waste product leftover after coal is processed – into an 80 ft. tall impoundment that will cover over one square mile. It is rated as a High Hazard dam, meaning that if the coal slurry impoundment were to fail, it would result in massive loss of life and property in Hillsboro and Schram City, and could send pollution downstream into Old Lake Hillsboro. The coal slurry impoundment will last the mine fewer than five years, meaning a new impoundment may then be built.

CALM also says that Deer Run used the Insignificant Permit Revision and Incidental Boundary Revision process to receive approval from IDNR to build the base of the High Hazard coal slurry impoundment and begin dumping coal slurry there before any opportunity for public comment, and before the mine received a dam permit from IDNR’s Office of Water Resources.

At an August 13, 2011 Office of Mines and Minerals public informal conference on the proposed coal slurry impoundment, local residents raised their concern that the Public Notice for the dam permit was not publicized, and asked IDNR to stop slurry disposal and dam construction activities by the mine until the issue is resolved. Instead, IDNR’s Office of Water Resources rescinded its original Cease and Desist Order and opted to grant Deer Run Mine an Emergency Dam Permit – allowing the mine to proceed with building the High Hazard Dam before the agency considers comments from the public.[6]

Citizen Groups

Mine Data

  • MSHA ID:
  • Operator: Hillsboro Energy
  • Controller: Cline Group / Natural Resource Partners
  • Union:
  • County: Montgomery and Bond
  • State: Illinois
  • Latitude:
  • Longitude:
  • Production (short tons): 8 to 10 million tons per year (estimated)
  • Coal Type:
  • Mining Method: Longwall
  • Mine Status: Projected to begin in 2012
  • Average No. of Employees:

Articles and resources

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "NRP's Headway for Illinois Buyout" Zacks Investment Research, Jan. 18, 2011.
  2. "Natural Resource Partners L.P. Completes Fifth Acquisition of Coal Reserves at Deer Run Mine in Illinois Basin" MarketWatch, Feb. 2, 2012.
  3. "Natural Resource Partners L.P. Completes Fifth Acquisition of Coal Reserves at Deer Run Mine in Illinois Basin" MarketWatch, Feb. 2, 2012.
  4. "Deer Run Mine to Construct High Hazard Coal Slurry Impoundment in City of Hillsboro" Citizens Against Longwall Mining, accessed Nov. 2011.
  5. Tim Landis, "Deer Run producing 'development coal'" State Journal Register, Apr 26, 2011.
  6. "Deer Run Mine to Construct High Hazard Coal Slurry Impoundment in City of Hillsboro" Citizens Against Longwall Mining, accessed Nov. 2011.

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