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County Coal studies western US terminal

31 Jul 2013 18:20 (+01:00 GMT)

Washington, 31 July (Argus) — A recent study by Australia-based County Coal shows that a proposed $400mn facility on the US west coast to export bulk coal to Asia is technically and economically feasible.

The proposed terminal is in addition to County's previously announced proposal to build an export terminal in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Both facilities would connect by rail to coal fields in British Columbia, Alberta and the US Powder River basin. The exact site in the US, which could accommodate up to 60,000 deadweight-tonne Panamax vessels, was not disclosed “due to commercial sensitivities.”

The proposed US terminal could help unlock the value of the company's 730mn metric tonnes of low-cost thermal resources in Wyoming, as well as other mines looking to export. The next steps to developing the US brownfield industrial site are securing land access and beginning a full feasibility study. The company will also embark on a complete schedule and cost forecast related to the project and associated permits.

County Coal owns and operates two thermal coal projects, Shell Creek and Miller in the PRB. Shell Creek hosts a 420mn t open-cut and underground thermal coal resource and Miller in the eastern portion of PRB hosts a 310mn t shallow underground/deep open cut thermal coal resource.

Both projects have potentially low-cost, export-quality coal, the company said. It does not plan to undertake further significant work on these resources until a viable export path has been identified and secured.

“Recent decisions by US federal and local authorities regarding other proposed coal terminals in the northwest have been favorable for the project proponents, improving the overall environment for the development of this type of facility,” County Coal said.

Last month the US Army Corps of Engineers denied environmentalists' request to collectively evaluate the impacts of three other proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific northwest, saying the location and scope of the projects were too different. The corps also said it would not consider the environmental effects of burning the coal shipped through the terminals, which will primarily head to Asia-Pacific countries.

In May US interior secretary Sally Jewell signed an agreement with Oregon and Washington state to speed the review and permitting of vital infrastructure development, including energy projects, in the northwest. The agreement is part of a broader Obama administration effort to improve US infrastructure and create jobs.

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