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Illinois coal production pushed Illinois basin production above five-year range

Published by
World Coal,

Coal production in the Illinois Basin during H1 2012 was 13% higher than the same period in 2011, at 64.4 million short t. This expansion of production, which occurred despite declines in total US coal production and consumption, was a response to both domestic and international demand for cheaper coal.

The Illinois basin ranges across the central US states of Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky. The coal produced in this region is bituminous coal with relatively high sulfur content. Production within the state of Illinois (23.9 million short t) has been a key driver of the basin production increase over H1 2012.

Coal exports to international markets from Illinois increased 120% in 2011 (5.5 million short t) from 2010 (2.5 million short t). In addition, domestic demand for coal from the Illinois basin, particularly from Illinois itself, increased as a result of a shift in demand toward the Illinois basin’s low-cost, high-sulfur coal and away from Central Appalachia’s high-cost, low-sulfur coal. Domestic utilities that have added scrubbers can burn high-sulfur coal while remaining in compliance with recent requirements to reduce SOx emissions. Because of the relatively low cost of Illinois basin coal and its use in larger, efficient plants with modern pollution control equipment, its producers were less affected by recent low natural gas prices.

New mines boosted Illinois production in contrast to other major coal-producing states, such as Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky, which experienced declines in coal production during Q2 2012 as well as mine closures. Between 2010 and Q3 2012, eight mines began producing coal in Illinois. They include:

  • 2010: Prairie Eagle underground mine.
  • 2011: Prairie Eagle South underground mine and Hawkeye mine.
  • 2012: Lively Grove mine, M-C No. 1 mine, Deer Run mine, Black Hawk mine and Eagle River mine.

In addition to new mines opening, existing mines have begun tapping into new reserves by opening new portals to the coal reserves and excavating new slopes from the surface to the coal seam.

Adapted from press release by


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