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New Mines to Open Downstate

By Kevin Robinson in News on Nov 16, 2010 3:20PM

Phot by Michigan Radio.
The State Journal-Register is reporting that three new coal mines are set to open next year in Illinois, in response to increasing demand domestically. Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association said that state coal production is down over five percent this year, but that production has picked up in the second half of the year, and is expected to continue to grow as a result of the new mines. “It’s been just the general nature of the economy. Energy use is down nationwide and all around the state,” Gonet told the Journal-Register.

The increased demand for coal can be traced to both an increase in coal consumption by both China and India, and demand for coal among energy producers that have "scrubbers" installed in their plants. Illinois coal is high-sulfur, and utilities need to have those scrubbers to produce energy that meets federal clean air standards. According to Gonet, 80 percent of Illinois coal is sold out-of-state. The TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) is one of the largest purchasers of Illinois coal," he said, adding that Illinois coal is exported to Europe as well, although the ICA doesn't track exports.