Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jonesville Alaskan Coal Permit Awarded To Black Range Minerals

Published on Wednesday July 06 2011
On the Coal Front!

State renews Jonesville Coal Permit
By K.T. McKee
Published on Monday, May 30, 2011 5:02 PM AKDT  

SUTTON The state renewal of an outside mining companys Jonesville coal mining permit earlier this month was so quiet, it wasnt even mentioned at the latest Sutton Community Council meeting.

Then again, only half of the eight-person council was present at the May 25 meeting at Sutton Elementary School, where about 25 residents filled metal folding chairs to hear other items on the SCC agenda.

Despite the lack of a quorum, council members Claudia Dolfi,
Jan Mulder, Gene Agnew and Jim McPherson discussed revenue sharing projects, a potential pedestrian/bike trail and a new child care center opening in town.

The council had previously voted 4 to 3 to issue a statement of support for coal mining in the area, causing an uproar in the small community between Miles 57 and 65 of the Glenn Highway.

The Frontiersman was alerted to the May 18 Jonesville permit renewal for Colorado-based Ranger Alaska by anti-coal activist Bonnie Zirkle, who owns 80 acres within one mile of the Wishbone Hill property off Buffalo Mine Road being explored by the Usibelli Coal Mine Co.

Ranger Alaska is a subsidiary of the Australian mining company Black Range Minerals.

Zirkle said last week she wasnt particularly surprised the Jonesville permit didnt come up for discussion at the May 25 SCC meeting.

Its probably better for the pro-coal people if the issue gets as little press as possible,Zirkle said.Theyd rather it quietly proceed in the hopes theres not much opposition to it until its too late to stop it.

The potential Jonesville coal mine is one of a few in the Sutton area that have sparked an array of heated debates within the past year over whether coal mining in the Matanuska Valley can be conducted again in a way that does not disturb the local ecosystem, air and water quality, and general quality of life north of Palmer.

Coal mining representatives and residents in favor of the mines for the economic boost and local jobs they would generate have argued mining can be done responsibly with little to no impact to the environment and quality of life in the area. Those against the mines argue they would generate cancer-causing toxins, pollute the local water table, disturb salmon and other wildlife habitat, damage nearby homes, generate dangerous truck traffic and decrease property values.

The Colorado-based Ranger Alaska LLC is considering a  
possible restart of the Jonesville Mine less than two miles from the heart of Sutton as Usibelli Coal Mine finishes up its exploration of its 8,000-acre Wishbone Hill property off Buffalo Mine Road.

Here's a full summary of BLR's 
Jonesville Coal Project, Alaska, USA

In 2008 the rights to the mine, as well as two adjacent leases comprising 1,450 acres, were purchased by the Australian-based Black Range Minerals through a subsidiary called Ranger Alaska. This company holds a variety of permits related to exploration, testing, and the reprocessing of mine tailings from the Evans Coal Mine.

The Jonesville Coal Mine is considered to be a “low risk project…in close proximity to thermal dependent countries including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China” according to Black Range Minerals January 2009 press release.

The project comprises two leases covering 1,450 acres with coal measures found from surface through to around 800 meters depth. Twelve coal seams of thickness greater than one meter have been located at the Jonesville Coal Project mostly consisting of Highly Volatile Bituminous rank Coal.

Of these, seams #3 and #5 both reach a maximum thickness of 7Mtr's, with seam #5 averaging 6 Mtr's thickness & seam #3 averaging 4Mtr's thickness.

The thickness of the seven other Coal seams averages greater than 1.5Mtr's, with seams #7b & #6 and the lower Shaw bed locallt exibiting thicknesses of 6Mtr's, and 3Mtr's respectively.

Within the Jonesville Project the coal units are laterally extensive within a doubly plunging syncline. They are interbedded by Sandstone,Siltstone,Claystone and Carbonaceous Shales

Bituminous coal is high-rank coal. It has high heat and low moisture contents and is harder than lower ranked coals. Bituminous coals are used in electricity generation and steel making processes, as well as, for industrial and municipal steam production applications. Bituminous coals are mined primarily in Appalachia, the Midwest and the West.

•Mined at Wishbone Hill - Sutton, Alaska
•Old coal - 50 million to 300 million years
•Very little moisture
•Low volatile matter - less than 10%
•High heat value
•Generation of steam to produce electricity
•Steel industry
Black Range Minerals speculates an inferred resource base of 130.7 million tons of coal (primarily south of the existing mine). Minor exploration occurred around the old mine site between 1990 and 1997, and in 2004, with no further mining undertaken. What came out of those years was the discovery of high quality coal resources south of the old mine site.

Black Range Minerals highlighted the access to great infrastructure: the Glenn Highway is only a little over a mile away, and the railroads are only 12.5 miles away with easy access to the port of Seward approximately 186 miles to the South, and Port Mackenzie 62 miles to the southwest and from there to the global market.

Black Range Minerals sees this as an “Opportunistic, very low cost acquisition” in which the current lease owners will get 2 percent royalty and the state of Alaska will receive 5 percent royalty on all production from the project.

Here's a brief description of what BLR's Jonesville Coal Project contains relative to Coal types.

BLR's Jonesville Project, contains Bituminous at around 12,000/12,500 BTUs-per-pound

Types of Coal

We use the term "coal" to describe a variety of fossilized plant materials, but no two coals are exactly alike. Heating value, ash melting temperature, sulfur and other impurities, mechanical strength, and many other chemical and physical properties must be considered when matching specific coals to a particular application.

Coal is classified into four general categories, or "ranks." They range from lignite through sub-bituminous and bituminous to anthracite, reflecting the progressive response of individual deposits of coal to increasing heat and pressure. The carbon content of coal supplies most of its heating value, but other factors also influence the amount of energy it contains per unit of weight. (The amount of energy in coal is expressed in British thermal units per pound. A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.)

About 90 percent of the coal in this country falls in the bituminous and sub-bituminous categories, which rank below anthracite and, for the most part, contain less energy per unit of weight. Bituminous coal predominates in the Eastern and Mid-continent coal fields, while sub-bituminous coal is generally found in the Western states and Alaska.

Lignite ranks the lowest and is the youngest of the coals. Most lignite is mined in Texas, but large deposits also are found in Montana, North Dakota, and some Gulf Coast states.


Anthracite is coal with the highest carbon content, between 86 and 98 percent, and a heat value of nearly 15,000 BTUs-per-pound. Most frequently associated with home heating, anthracite is a very small segment of the U.S. coal market. There are 7.3 billion tons of anthracite reserves in the United States, found mostly in 11 northeastern counties in Pennsylvania.


The most plentiful form of coal in the United States, bituminous coal is used primarily to generate electricity and make coke for the steel industry. The fastest growing market for coal, though still a small one, is supplying heat for industrial processes. Bituminous coal has a carbon content ranging from 45 to 86 percent carbon and a heat value of 10,500 to 15,500 BTUs-per-pound.


Ranking below bituminous is sub-bituminous coal with 35-45 percent carbon content and a heat value between 8,300 and 13,000 BTUs-per-pound. Reserves are located mainly in a half-dozen Western states and Alaska. Although its heat value is lower, this coal generally has a lower sulfur content than other types, which makes it attractive for use because it is cleaner burning.

Lignite is a geologically young coal which has the lowest carbon content, 25-35 percent, and a heat value ranging between 4,000 and 8,300 BTUs-per-pound. Sometimes called brown coal, it is mainly used for electric power generation.

For those Holders unaware of the proceedings currently in play "Read On" as we should be close to attaining an outcome.

Public Notice: Extension of comment period Jonesville Coal Mining Permit

by Sue Deyoe ~ October 11th, 2010

At the request of the local community, the Department of Natural Resources has extended the public comment period for the renewal of the Jonesville Coal Mining Permit Renewal.

The deadline to submit written comment closes at 5:00PM on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.

An application for the renewal of the Jonesville Coal Mine Permit (U-0201) has been filed with the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW), on December 9, 2009, from Ranger Alaska, LLC, 110 N. Rubey Dr. Suite 201, Golden Colorado, 80403.
The Jonesville Coal Mine is located in the Matanuska Valley approximately 11 miles northeast of Palmer, Alaska.

The mining area is approximately 2 miles northwest of Sutton, Alaska near the southeast portion of Wishbone Hill. The mining area can be found on the USGS Anchorage C6 quad map. The mining permit area is in Township 19N Range 3E Sections 9, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 21, Seward Meridian.

This request is to renew the existing permit for an additional five-year term. There are no changes or modifications to the operation and reclamation plans which have been proposed which would significantly alter the previously approved permit. The originally approved permit met the requirements of AS 27.21 and 11 AAC 90 subject to the stipulations of the original permits.

The permit renewal procedure is part of the Alaska Surface Coal Mining Program (AS 27.21 and 11 AAC 90). Copies of the original permit, transfer and renewal application and the preliminary findings document are available for review at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water, 550 W. 7th Ave., Suite 920, Anchorage, AK 99501-3577. Inquiries should be sent to: Chuck White, at the Anchorage address listed above, by fax to (907) 269-8930, or by e-mail to chuck [dot] white [at] alaska [dot] gov.

Any person who is or may be adversely affected by the renewal of this permit may file written comments or objections and may include with an objection a request for an informal conference (AS 27.21.140). Comments may be filed by mail, fax, or e-mail at the address above, but must be received by the Department by 5:00 pm, October 19, 2010.

Outcome Pending

Russel Kirkham from Alaska's Dept. of Natural Resources points out where a new underground mine would enter the mountain if it were built. This proposed mine would require several new permits to happen.

Russel Kirkham from Alaska's Dept. of Natural Resources presents information on a permit renewal at Jonesville coal mine.

Photo taken during DNR's presentation at Jonesville mine.

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