JOHNSTON CITY – Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced nearly $10 million in Opportunity Returns funding for coal development and operation projects aimed at expanding use of Illinois coal, creating and retaining jobs and sustaining the infrastructure needed for continued market expansion. The Illinois Coal Competitiveness Program grants, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will leverage tens of millions of dollars in private sector investment in areas of Southern Illinois where Governor Blagojevich has pledged to make coal industry revival a lynchpin of his Opportunity Returns initiative. The Governor also announced $5 million in grants from the Clean Coal Review Board, which identifies the very best cutting-edge coal-utilization technologies and encourages their application in Illinois. Through this innovative program, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s (SIUC) Coal Research Center and the Clean Coal Review Board will develop strategies to encourage the application of innovative coal technologies in commercial settings. It is comprised of state elected officials, including its newest member State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton), along with industry and educational representatives. The Clean Coal Review Board was established by SIUC after it received a donation of $25 million from the Commonwealth Edison Company after the sale of its western coal fired fossil fuel plants in and near the Chicago area.
“These grants represent a significant shot in the arm for an industry that has weathered considerable hardship but offers great promise,” Governor Blagojevich said. “We must do better at deploying this abundant Illinois resource as a homegrown source of energy for our nation and a source of jobs and economic growth for the coal mining regions of this state.”
The grant program was redesigned by Governor Blagojevich to increase incentives for projects that deploy state-of-the-art technologies and create new markets for Illinois coal. One such project at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale will receive $3.35 million in grant funding to retrofit an idled power plant boiler, putting it back into service using clean coal technology.
“Governor Blagojevich has demonstrated our commitment to ensure that Southern Illinois coal continues to play an vital role in the economic revitalization of our region. By supporting cutting edge projects and opening up new markets for this critical natural resource, we are helping to create more jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said.
These projects will improve coal production, transportation and utilization systems in Illinois. They fulfill the aim to leverage private investment that improves the quality of Illinois-mined coal, creating new markets and making Illinois coal producers more competitive in the marketplace.
“Illinois invests more money in developing its native coal industry than any other state. Coal has a bright future here in Illinois based on our strong partnership with dedicated coal operators and the unbreakable spirit of the men and women who work hard each and every day in Illinois mines,” said Jack Lavin, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), which oversees the Coal Competitiveness Program.
This year’s awards, plus grants from the state’s former Coal Infrastructure Program, have resulted in a total investment of $776 million since 1996. The following awards were made:
American Coal Company - $615,559 - Saline/Hamilton County
$135,400 to drill injection wells and pump waste coal fines from the mine cleaning plant and inject into open room and pillar panels at the Galatia Mine, reducing the need for surface storage of coal slurry.
$292,765 to enhance worker safety by building ventilation shaft and fan to ventilate areas mined by four longwall panels.
$70,600 to add suplementary belt drives to facilitate continued expansion into new coal reserves.
$20,500 to convert a roof bolter to diesel power for use in areas where electric power is unavailable and to rebuild a framework for dumping coal onto conveyor belt.
$32,500 to rebuild seven longwall roof support shields to ensure reliability and productivity from the longwall mining unit.
$37,957 to drill a new rockdust borehole and relocate a bulk rockdust tank.
$25,837 to install 8,000-gallon hydraulic tank and diesel storage tanks and to drill two boreholes to serve an underground fueling station, replacing a surface station from which filled tanks must be lowered underground.
Arclar,LLC - $526,000 - Saline County
$526,000 to upgrade mine equipment in the fifth production unit, construct a new entrance road and construct a rock dust/petroleum storage facility.
Barlow Projects Illinois, LLC - $3.35 million - Jackson County
$3.35 million to retrofit an existing Southern Illinois University-Carbondale steam boiler with Aireal combustion grate technology and a SOLIOS emission control system for advanced cleanup of flue gases at the plant.
Black Beauty Coal Company - $1.16 million - Saline/Gallatin/Vermilion County
$650,000 to develop three new pits in the Herrin No. 6 seam at the Wildcat Hills surface mine adjacent to the Willow Lake Mine.
$510,000 to upgrade the coal preparation plant, expand existing reject and coal recovery areas and improve coal loading facilities at the Riola Mine complex.
Coaltec Energy USA, Inc. - $330,000 - Saline County
$330,000 to construct and demonstrate the advantages of a low-profile battery-powered shuttle car in underground mines and evaluate its productivity performance for industry-wide utilization.
IL Department of Natural Resources - Office of Mines and Minerals - $47,565 - Franklin County
$47,565 to purchase a Varian CP4900 mobile Micro gas chromatograph to replace outdated stationary equipment currently used for various air quality tests now conducted at the IDNR Benton lab.
Knight Hawk Coal, LLC - $286,500 - Jackson/Perry County
$243,500 to purchase new equipment and upgrade the wash plant at its new Red Hawk Mine, increasing production to 600,000 tons per year.
$43,000 to purchase new lab equipment and a GPS monitoring system. The lab equipment expands its onsite capabilities to monitor coal quality. The GPS monitoring system will improve dozer efficiency in removing overburden at the Creek Paum surface mine.
Liberty Coal Company - $431,000 - Saline County
$431,000 to build and install a slurry disposal facility to handle coal wastes of the mine through 2014.
Midwest Transload - $400,000 - Perry County
$400,000 to provide shared truck-to-rail facilities for several area coal mines now shipping by truck. Project will provide access to two major rail lines by rehabilitating the coal handling, loading and weighing systems.
S Coal Company - $252,146 - Williamson County
$252,146 for a new coal wash plant and coal auger, increasing production and allowing the firm to meet contract specifications.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale - $950,000 - Jackson County
$950,000 for the design, engineering and construction of a coal receiving system, covered storage and handling systems and a coal feeding system to SIUC’s steam plant.
Wabash Mine Holding Company - $1.071 million - Wabash County
$500,000 to rebuild or replace underground mining equipment, needed to improve efficiency and increase productivity.
$571,000 to replace an aged conveyor system and to strengthen conveyor roof supports, enabling the mine to continue to operate in safely
White County Coal LLC - $305,651 - White County
$148,626 to add two super-mining units, perform ventilation modifications, purchase four shuttle cars and modify two continuous miners, with a goal of increasing production by 15 percent.
$64,716 to purchase rail car scales for its coal loadout facility.
$52,399 for new coal handling system that will allow the mine to reclaim raw coal directly into the coal prep plant, allowing faster, more efficient cleaning and operation.
$39,910 to eliminate water accumulation in previously mined areas and to pump fine slurry from the wash plant to mined-out underground areas.
The Clean Coal Review Board grants include:
Steelhead Energy Company, LLC - $2.5 million – Williamson County
Steelhead is developing the Southern Illinois Clean Energy Center, which will be a coal gasification based electric generation and substitute natural gas facility in Williamson County. The project has evolved from a conventional power plant that would eventually use 7 million tons of Illinois coal per year.
Royster-Clark Nitrogen, Inc. - $2.5 million – Jo Daviess County
In an aggressive effort to promote clean burning coal as a cost-efficient alternative to escalating natural gas prices, this Illinois fertilizer producer is starting the process of using advanced clean coal technology as a replacement for natural gas to operate its East Dubuque facility. This grant allows Royster-Clark to continue the development process that will ultimately supplant natural gas with coal gasification as its source of energy for fertilizer production. DCEO recently awarded the company $500,000 for the project. The facility will use 1 million tons of Illinois coal per year.
The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. This grassroots effort for the Southern region is a product of significant outreach over several months with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials. The projects that the Governor has announced for the Southern region are designed to be flexible and effective. This plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from.