Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA ANTHRACITE FIELDS

File Industry and Uses Stockton Current Operations – Stockton Mine

Located in North-eastern Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvanian Anthracite Fields occupy an area across six counties: Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Carbon, Schuylkill and Northumberland. It is easily accessible by three major rivers, the Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna, providing excellent links to the major ports at Erie, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The fields, four in total, are a series of coal basins, some almost horizontal but the majority folded and faulted. The most famous and primary coal seam of interest is the Mammoth which often reaches thicknesses of 40-50 (and sometimes more) feet in places.

While the native people of the area were undoubtedly aware of anthracite, in the “modern era” it was allegedly discovered by the hunter Necho Allen. Legend has it that in 1790 he fell asleep at the base of Broad Mountain in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and woke to the sight of a large fire after his campfire ignited an outcrop of anthracite. The first mines were set up, and a period of rapid expansion of the industry followed, helped in large part by an influx of immigrants from England, Wales, Ireland and Germany. Pennsylvanian anthracite is said to have fuelled the American Industrial Revolution, and by 1917 100 million tonnes were being produced per year. The industry gradually declined over the 20th Century, however, despite the growth of oil and gas as a fuel anthracite still retains a significant portion of the domestic heating markets in the north east of the US.

Anthracite is not an ordinary coal like the bituminous coal worked to the south in the Appalachian coalfields and the fields to the west eg in the Powder river Basin, most of which is burned to produce electricity. but is a premium, high carbon product with specialist applications. The anthracite produced in Pennsylvania is regarded as of particularly high quality; it has high carbon content and low levels of “impurities” such as sulphur. It therefore finds wide applications for its pure carbon content eg as a reducing agent in the steel industry as well as for its high heat content and clean burning characteristics.

Not only is the quality of Pennsylvanian anthracite well known, but the reserves and geological structure of the area are very well documented. Detailed mining surveys, geological plans and studies are available for mine seams across the coalfield, so we have been able to gain an in depth knowledge of the area to support our strategy of seeking new acquisitions. This knowledge is backed up by the local connections the company has built up over the past 15 years with suppliers, contractors and fellow anthracite producers, allowing us to take advantage of the excellent infrastructure built up to support anthracite production.

The coalfield is well-documented, conveniently located for exports, has an established local infrastructure designed around the anthracite production industry, and yields high quality product. However it also holds another major benefit over other overseas natural resources investment opportunities – it is located in a politically stable environment. This stability is important in that it ensures a reliable source of anthracite for both homes and industry. This has recently become particularly apparent in the case of Ukraine which in 2014 moved from being a major producer and exporter of anthracite, including to the USA to a net importer of anthracite due to the unfortunate situation now affecting that country. 

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