A proposed underground coal mine in Wright Township is awaiting final permitting approvals from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources before beginning the hiring process and starting production.
The proposed Landree Mine is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of County Road 1500 West and County Road 700 North, southwest of Jasonville.
Cory Smith, who serves as treasurer and spokesman for the mine owners -- The Lily Group, Inc. of Sullivan, said Tuesday morning, "We're still in the permitting process. We are hoping to wind that up real shortly."
When asked about a timeline to start production, Smith replied, "It's really hard to say. Once we get our final revisions back to the state, it's in their hands. As soon as they give us the go-ahead, we are going to be ready to roll ... we are just kind of in a holding pattern until we get everything satisfied with the state.
"It's a complex process. DNR has been awesome to work with. They are doing everything they can to help us. We are just trying to get all of our 'i's' dotted and 't's' crossed."
Smith said the actual start of production is determined by several factors, including weather and installation of equipment.
"After we get their (the state) approval, hopefully we would be able to start within the next 30 to 60 days," Smith said. "It's a process."
Lily Group was founded in the fall of 2007 by Rick Risinger of Sullivan.
Smith said no employees have been hired, but noted that the number in the workforce will be a step-up process to 100 employees once production gets in full swing.
In Indiana, all coal mining operations are required to obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Reclamation.
There are three steps to the process:
* Pre-mining inventory. The operator must include the existing land uses and a description of the condition and productivity of the land to be mined.
* Mine operation plan. The plan shows how the site will be mined; how the soils with be removed and saved; how water will be handled.
* Reclamation. The coal company must show their plan for grading, soil replacement, and re-vegetation to pre-mining levels of productivity.
The Lily Group received a seven-year tax abatement on equipment and property improvements from the Greene County Council earlier this year.
During the abatement, the taxes paid would be graduated on an upward percentage scale over the seven years until a 100 percent level in 2017.
According to the terms of the Notice of Adoption of the Designated Economic Revitalization Area, the tax abatement shall be allowed to Lily Group only if it satisfies the condition that it employ at least 20 persons at the facility by May 1, 2010 and 100 persons at the facility by May 1, 2011.
One of the stipulations that the county council insisted on the developers including in their final revitalization area and abatement documents is at least 60 percent of the hired employees would be Greene County residents.
Lily Group also received approval from the Greene County Commissioners, who signed off on a federal grant application, that will provide the coal company with a $1 million Disaster Recovery Grant to purchase mine equipment.
Smith pointed out that a recent study by an independent firm has shown coal reserves that will span a minimum of 20 years.
The coal will be accessed by slope to a depth which ranges from 114 to 175 feet, with an average of 130 feet. Coal thickness ranges from 1.96 to 4.84 feet, according to information from the company.
The firm has about 2,800 acres in its permit application -- including 1,400 that Lily owns the mineral rights and another 1,400 that they have leased the mineral rights. The company owns about 20 actual acres where the mining operation will be based.
All of the acreage is located in Greene County, Smith said.
He also said the company plans to purchase more than $5 million in production equipment that would be subject to full taxation after the seven-year abatement period passes.
Smith noted that the company at its own expense is increasing the electrical capacity in the area to accommodate the new mining equipment, which will have a benefit to the nearby town of Jasonville.