Allegheny Minerals plans first underground limestone mine

Allegheny Minerals of Kittanning, Pennsylvania has filed an application to open a limestone mine on the Armstrong-Butler county border that would be its first underground mine.

If it receives Department of Environmental Protection approval, the mine will open in 2015, the company said.

“This would be our first attempt at underground mining,” said Mark Snyder, whose family owns Allegheny Minerals. “We’ve had open-pit quarry operations for 50-plus years.”

The bulk of the Bison Mine would be in West Franklin, Armstrong County, but part will cross the county line into Winfield and Clearfield, Butler County.

Darrell Lewis, Allegheny Mineral’s chief engineer, said the mine’s entrance would be located off Mushroom Farm Road.

“We’ve been working on this permit for three years,” said Lewis. “There’s a lot of background development that goes into this.”

An informal public conference will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Worthington-West Franklin Volunteer Fire Department in Worthington on Allegheny Mineral’s non-coal-mining permit application. The DEP and the Armstrong County Conservation District set up the meeting to allow public comment.

“There’s a lot more practices you have to follow as far as roof bolting and providing a safe environment for your workers,” Snyder said. “We are not foreseeing any major environmental concerns or issues that have not been addressed by the Department of Environmental Protection.”

The company plans to mine the Vanport Limestone Seam, one of several limestone seams in the state, Lewis said.

Snyder said the mine will require 15 to 20 workers underground and 15 for processing on the surface. “We’re sizing our facility to do a million tons per year,” he said.

Once limestone is dug from quarries and mines, it is processed into lime byproducts used mostly in steel-making, water purification and air filtration.

“There is a lot of opportunity in furnishing power plants with chemical limestone,” Snyder said. “They use it in the combustion process to control their emissions. … We have done some business in that market, but it has been limited.”

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