President Donald Trump didn’t waste the opportunity to press his pro-coal agenda by mentioning the opening of a new coal mine in Pennsylvania.
Corsa Coal Corp. (TSXV:CSO) decided almost a year ago to open the Acosta mine, about 60 miles from Pittsburgh, to take advantage of higher metallurgical coal prices. The official opening took place last Thursday, attended by business leaders and about 200 miners whose “mining headgear lay atop red, white, and blue table cloths labeled ‘Make Coal Great Again,’ according to a description by Associated Press. The mine would create up to 100 new jobs.
Trump made the revitalization of the U.S. coal industry – which had been targeted by the Obama Administration including tighter restrictions on coal-fired power plants – a central plank of his election campaign. He has made good on deregulating the coal industry through legislation signed in February to end the regulation protecting waterways from coal mining waste. The Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule enacted by Obama was resisted by coal miners.
President Trump referred to the mine’s opening during a speech announcing his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
“One by one, we’re eliminating the regulations that threaten your jobs, and that’s one of the big reasons you’re opening today: Less regulation,” Trump said. “We have withdrawn the United States from the horrendous Paris climate accord, something that would have put our country back decades and decades, we would have never allowed ourselves to be great again.”
AP quoted Corsa Coal’s chief executive, George Dethlefsen, as saying that Trump has made the mining industry more optimistic.
“The war on coal is over,” he said. “Easing the regulatory burden, lowering taxes, stimulating infrastructure spending, balancing out the interest of economic growth versus environmental policy — it’s very good for coal.” Pennsylvania kicked in a $3 million grant for the project.
The company, currently valued at $165 million, will produce metallurgical coal for steelmaking. It plans to open another mine next year and a third one in 2019. Corsa Coal currently has nearly 400 employees in two divisions: NAPP, which has three deep mines and two active surface mines in Maryland and Pennsylvania; and CAPP, which has two deep mines and two open-pit active surface mines in Tennessee and Kentucky. Projected sales for 2017 are between 1.325 and 1.475 million tons, according to a corporate presentation.
The company says it benefits from its proximity to the largest met-coal market in the U.S., as well as access to East Coast ports, being 170 miles from Baltimore.