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West Virginia Governor: Pinnacle Mine Could Become Fully Operational Within a Year

In West Virginia, following the recent purchase of the Pinnacle Mine’s preparation plant in Wyoming County by one of his companies, Governor Jim Justice said the mine could resume operations within 12 months, after coal extraction and processing at the site ceased in 2018.

During his campaign tour through southern West Virginia Thursday, the governor emphasized he is not involved in the day-to-day functions of his family’s businesses, though he went on to express cautious optimism about the likelihood of the restoration of several hundred jobs lost as a result of the shutdown.

Jim Justice

“We did get the cleaning plant, the property, and the Green Ridge reserve. You know what’s going to happen? The whole area is going to come back to life,” he said.

“It’s all dependent upon one thing: can we fit this metallurgical coal into the marketplace? If Jay (Justice) and them can do that, and they can fit it in into the marketplace, whether the market’s Korea or China or India or wherever it may be, then that total number of jobs (between 400 and 500), we’ll be able to achieve that, probably, within a year.”

Noting the diminished value of low-volatile coking coal, Justice nonetheless said he foresaw output at the mine exceeding the total amount of annual production generated by Pinnacle, during its peak years.

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The World Returns to Coal

Average global greenhouse gas emissions are rising at double the rate of Australia’s, exposing the mismatch between the “hope and reality” of meeting Paris Agreement goals, a report has found.

A major report by energy giant BP said the world was returning to coal, and without shale gas from the US and LNG exports from Australia the emissions reduction picture would be much worse.

Massive investments in renewable energy were needed but would not be enough to satisfy ­increasing demands for power, most notably in China and India.

BP said global emissions overall were up 2 percent last year as the unexpected return to coal gathered pace.

The increase of 600 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from energy was greater than Australia’s total output.

Officials said the report confirmed Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions were “minuscule in ­absolute terms and lower (than the world average) in percentage terms as well”.

BP said last year’s global energy demand and carbon emissions from energy use had grown at its fastest rate since 2010-11.

The BP statistical review of ­energy is a highly respected ­annual report that examines trends in energy demand and use, including from renewables.

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UMWA Reaches Agreement Regarding Murray Energy Properties

An agreement has been reached between the United Mine Workers of America and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association that will result in union members at Murray Energy properties receiving an additional $1 an hour and the restoration of a workers holiday.

The deal, announced Thursday, includes a 50 cents per hour increase on Aug. 15 and a similar increase on Jan. 1, 2021.

The birthday holiday will also be offered effective Jan 1. 2021; union members gave up the holiday as part of the current agreement which was ratified in 2016.

“We are pleased that the parties were able to reach this reopener agreement that recognizes the hard work our members have done over the last two and half years since the current contract was ratified,” UMWA president Cecil Roberts said. “They have not had a raise for more than three years and they deserve one. Under this agreement, they will have two.”

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 Mine Rescue, Safety Winners Named

Alden Resources took top honors last week in the 33rd annual Virginia Governor’s Cup Mine Rescue and Safety Contest.

But because the team is based in Kentucky, second place team Paramont Contura was awarded the Virginia Governor’s Cup.

Left to right, front row: Eric Collins, Brian Keith, Nate Clark, Harry Childress (VCEA). Back row: Ronnie Biggerstaff, Ben Harding (MSHA), Paris Charles, Brad Hawkins, Tim Watkins (MSHA), Adam Phillips, Casey Mooneyhan, Robby Middleton, Alan Dupree, Frankie Moore, Randy Moore. 

Photo by DMME

The competition, held on the campus of University of Virginia’s College at Wise, was co-hosted by the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The mine rescue teams competed to conduct rescue and recovery operations in a staged mine disaster scenario laid out in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. Team members donned full mine rescue gear, including oxygen breathing apparatus, to determine underground mine conditions, construct ventilation controls and locate and extract accident “victims.”

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A Roll of the Dice

Jerry Jones, the enigmatic, billionaire, oil-man owner of the Dallas Cowboys just made a big bet on the future of natural gas. His gamble is a timely reminder that low prices and cheap energy don’t tend to stay that way. Predicting just when natural gas prices rise is anyone's guess, but Jerry is rolling the dice and American consumers better hope he’s wrong. 

Natural gas prices have stayed stubbornly low since the emergence of the shale revolution a decade ago, but low prices have generated ever-building demand that could soon catch up to the glut. Jones said he sees an opportunity not unlike his $140 million purchase of the Cowboys 30 years ago. That bet turned out pretty well – the team is now worth about $5 billion and is the NFL’s most valuable franchise.


 

If Jerry proves right, and natural gas prices begin to tick up, Americans are bound for a demonstration of the value of a balanced electricity mix. It's only through a balanced, diversified portfolio of electricity generating sources that consumers are protected from fuel price volatility. Historically, as the price of one fuel would rise another could offset it. The balance in fuels provided cushion to protect consumers from the kind of surges in energy prices many might equate with a spike in oil prices that bears poison fruit at the gas pump.

An IHS Markit study from 2017 found that the nation's diverse fuel mix lowers the cost of electricity by about $114 billion per year and reduces the variability of monthly consumer electricity bills by around 22 percent. The lead author of that study wrote, “It is easy to take the cost-effective diversity of the current U.S. electric supply portfolio for granted.” Of course, that's precisely what has happened. As baseload coal and nuclear power plant retirements have accelerated and as our overreliance on natural gas and its constrained, just-in-time fuel delivery system grows, the potential pain from a fuel price increase – the very price increase Jerry Jones is betting on – is growing in tandem.

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