Gateway Mine is a non-union underground mine in Randolph County near Coulterville, Illinois, owned by Peabody Energy. The mine began production in July 2005. In 2008, the mine sold 3.2 million tons of steam coal, primarily to major utility and industrial customers in the mid-West.
On Sep. 27, 2010, Peabody announced that it plans to expand yearly production capacity at its Gateway mine by 40%. The $175-million project will extend the life of the operation at least 16 years, by increasing underground operations north of the existing site and digging up around 4.5 million tons of coal a year. Gateway has an additional 280-million tons of reserves available for expansion “in favorable market conditions”, Peabody said. The project still requires permitting and regulatory approval, and the company has started work on licensing and mine engineering for the expansion. 
Besides the newly approved expansion at Gateway, Peabody is also expanding six mines in Australia, ramping up operations at the Bear Run Mine in Indiana and increasing production at the El Segundo mine in New Mexico.
The mine operates seven days a week, year round, with one to three production shifts per day on two and a half supersection units to extract coal from the Herrin No. 6 seam. The coal goes from the mine via a 1,200-foot beltline to temporary storage and then travels by overland belt 1.4 miles to the preparation plant.
The preparation plant scrubs the coal using heavy media cyclones. After scrubbing, it is stored in a 10,000-ton silo and a 100,000-ton above-ground storage/loadout facility before shipping to customers. Coal is shipped in 125-car unit trains or travels via train to a Mississippi River dock, where it is transloaded onto barges.
Peabody bought the mine from Lexington Coal Company. In early 2005 Black Beauty signed a long-term coal supply agreement with Northern Indiana Public Service Company. Black Beauty said the Gateway Mine will provide all the coal to fulfill the contract.
Coal Waste Contamination
A 2011 report by Prairie Rivers and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" found that Illinois has the second highest number of contaminated coal ash dump sites in the United States. The report evaluates data from groundwater sampling conducted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) at coal ash disposal sites in 2010. IEPA found exceedances of health standards for coal ash contaminants in groundwater at all 22 sites evaluated. Prairie Rivers and IEP said two-thirds of the impoundments don't have groundwater monitoring and don't have liners, which keep contaminants from leaching out of the impoundments. And dams holding the impoundments at most of the 83 sites have no permits and have not been inspected for safety or stability by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The report focuses on the specific problems at 10 of the 22 coal waste sites: the Vermilion Power Station, the Joliet 9 Generating Station and Joliet 29 Generating Station, the now retired Ameren Energy Venice Power Station in Madison and St. Clair counties, coal ash generated by the Bunge dry corn mill in Vermilion County, the Hutsonville Power Station, the Crown 3 Mine, the Industry Mine, the Gateway Mine, and the coal mine reclamation Murdock site by Alpena Vision Resources in Douglas County.
Prairie Rivers and the EIP said the U.S. EPA should implement comprehensive coal ash regulations that would regulate coal ash as a special waste with federal standards that all states would have to follow, like requiring liners at disposal sites, covers, monitoring, cleanup standards and the phase out of ash ponds. According to the IEPA's ash impoundment strategy progress report in February 2010, the agency now requires new ash ponds to have liners, and the agency supports the U.S. EPA's initiative for stricter controls on coal ash.
The 2011 report, "State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash" by Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, looked at EPA data and found that state regulations are often inadequate for protecting public health. The report noted that Illinois ranked first in the number of coal ash ponds with 83, yet only about a third of the ponds are lined or monitored.
- Owner: Black Beauty Coal Company
- Parent company: Peabody Energy
- Location: 13101 Zeigler mine Rd, Coulterville, Illinois
- GPS coordinates:38.181057,-89.656591
- Production: 3.2 million tons (2008)
- Type of coal: Steam
- Mine type: Underground
- Number of employees: 220
- Recoverable Reserves: 16 million tons
Black Beauty Coal Company
Coulterville, IL 62237
Articles and resources
The Illinois Coal Industry Statutory Mandated Report 2008 an industry report containing information on Illinois mines.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Coal and jobs in the United States
- Coal phase-out
- Headquarters of U.S. coal mining companies
- Global list of coal mining companies and agencies
- Illinois and coal
- Proposed coal mines
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
To see a listing of coal mines in a particular state, click on the map:
- "Gateway Mine" Peabody Energy Website, October 2009
- Liezel Hill, "Peabody to expand Illinois coal mine" Mining Weekly, Sep. 27, 2010.
- Patrick L. Thimangu "Peabody Energy fires up Illinois mine, hiring 200" St. Louis Business Journal, June 3, 2005
- Jeff Stant and Traci Barkley, "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" Prairie Rivers and Environmental Integrity Project report, August 17, 2011.
- Tracy Moss, "EPA says it's monitoring coal ash sites" The News-Gazette, Aug. 19, 2011.