December 13, 2006

PA DEP Issues Permit to Amfire Mining to Develop Underground Coal Mine in Cambria County

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today issued a permit to Amfire Mining Co. to open a new underground coal mine in Cresson Township, Cambria County.

The permit authorizes Amfire Mining of Latrobe, Westmoreland County to conduct room-and-pillar mining in 2,929.4 acres of the Upper Freeport Coal Seam. The company also will use nearly 73 surface acres for water treatment facilities and other support activities.

"Pennsylvania's mines produced more than 81 million tons of coal in 2005 -- that represents a significant contribution to our economy and enhances our commonwealth's position as a national leader in the production of coal for energy and metallurgy," DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. "Our department will continue to ensure that mining companies maintain the highest standards of environmental protection and miner safety as they harvest this natural resource."

The mine portal will be located in Cresson Township. Surface mine inspectors from DEP's Cambria District Mining Office will monitor water and air quality at the site to ensure that mining activities do not negatively affect area streams and water supplies, or the health and safety of nearby residents.

Once mining begins, DEP's Bureau of Mine Safety will conduct regular, intensive underground inspections to help Amfire Mining comply with Pennsylvania's strict mine safety laws to protect the safety of underground miners.

Room-and-pillar mining is a traditional mining method in which miners leave pillars of coal to support the roof and prevent subsidence as mining progresses.

The Upper Freeport Coal Seam is present throughout much of western Pennsylvania, having an average thickness of four feet in the permitted area.

The company has three years to activate the permit and begin mining activities. Underground mine permits must be renewed every five years.

For more information on underground mining in Pennsylvania, visit DEP's Web site at, Keyword: "Mine Safety."

CONTACT: Tom Rathbun, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, +1-717-787-1323.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

CONTACT: Tom Rathbun, Pennsylvania Department of EnvironmentalProtection, +1-717-787-1323

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