Signal Peak Energy: Mining Coal The “NEW” Fashioned Way

 Post By: Q2 News

ROUNDUP - It's called "black gold." Montana coal.

In the nearby Bull Mountains, they've been mining coal for more than 100 years, but they have never mined it like this before.

"In the dispatch center, we can track all the coal miners in the mine, at individual points where they're at," explains Mine Manager Dale Musgrave.

Using Signal Peak's wireless tracking system, Musgrave can keep tabs not only on the location of each individual miner, he can also monitor every aspect of the mine's operation. He can even tap into the system from his home, using his smart phone.

"We can watch the longwall operating...everything from its location, to how many amps it's running to how many feet per minute it's running," said Musgrave. "It allows our electricians and engineers to make any tweaks necessary, right from their computers."

Signal Peak's new longwall mine opened in 2009, and in just 5 years, it's already among the nation's top producers.

Today, 330 employees work at Signal Peak, taking home an average annual salary of $86,000 a year.

The mine operates 24/7 every day of the year, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

At any given time, between 45 to 60 workers are underground.

The Signal Peak Mine sits atop a 17-foot thick seam of coal, known as the Mammoth Seam.

It contains some of the world's cleanest, low sulfur, high-BTU coal.

The mine's train loading facility can fill an entire 120 car coal train in just 2hours and 20 minutes.

Adding to Signal Peak's uniqueness, is that all of its coal is sold to a single buyer.

First Energy, based in Akron, Ohio, the nation's 4th largest power generator and has a long term deal with Signal Peak to purchase all of its coal.

SIgnal Peak President and CEO Brad Hanson says the mine is in a very enviable position.

"We have a great team here, with great ownership. We have one of the better reserves in the country, with great access to the the railroad and great access to the ports," said Hanson. "It's a great story."

The life of the Signal Peak mine extends well into the middle of this century.

In fact, Signal Peak's future mining plans are mapped out through the year 2049.

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