By Casey Junkins
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
TRIADELPHIA, W.Va. – As natural gas drilling rigs populate Ohio County’s surface, some residents may not recall the Tunnel Ridge underground longwall mining system will grind out about 3 million tons of coal this year.
This production estimate, provided by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, shows an increase from the 2 million tons mined at Tunnel Ridge in 2012. Estimates show coal production at the mine that originally opened in 2010 could be increasing rapidly.
“Our production will increase next year as Tunnel Ridge is currently expected to produce approximately 5.5 million tons in 2014,” said Joseph Craft, president and CEO of Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners, which owns the Ohio County mine. “As we look forward, Alliance Resource Partners is poised for more growth in 2014.”
If Tunnel Ridge reaches Craft’s goal for the new year, the mine would exceed the 5.3 million tons of coal produced in 2012 by the former Consol Energy Shoemaker mine, according to MSHA statistics.
That facility, with its Benwood-based prep plant, is now known as the “Ohio County Coal Co.’s Ohio County Mine” following its purchase by Murray Energy Corp. as part of Murray’s $3.5 billion deal with Consol Energy…