Bulldog Mine is a planned coal mine of Indiana-based Sunrise Coal for Vermilion County, Illinois. Sunrise Coal leased mineral rights to 19,500 acres in the area, much of it from local farmers. In June 2012 the company applied to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to extract coal from what they’re calling the Bulldog Mine.
Vermilion County sits near the center of the coal-dense Illinois Basin. The coal is high sulfur, but modern pollution scrubbers have made the coal viable under current EPA regulations regarding sulfur dioxide.
According to John Hanou, an energy consultant who published a proprietary report on Illinois Basin coal, it costs $20-30 less a ton to mine coal in the Illinois Basin than in Appalachia, "and there’s still a robust domestic market for coal and a burgeoning export market to China and India." Sunrise Coal said they cannot say where they will be selling the coal since they do not yet have contracts, but that they are best situated geographically to sell in the Midwest. The Vermilion County area is served by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which directly supplies coal to coal-burning power plants in the Southeast.
Sunrise estimates it will need between 340,000 and 540,000 gallons of water a day for the first few years of operation, and opponents say that number could climb to 750,000 gallons a day once mining is underway. The totals dwarf the amount used by entire villages in the region. When asked where the mine’s water will come from, the company said initially, “a collection pond.” When a reporter pointed out that rainwater was unlikely to supply the hundreds of thousands of gallons needed, Sunrise Coal said that the company is looking to the village of Homer, Illinois, which borders the mine, for additional water. Opponents say such large watre withdrawals could create problems for local needs.
Allegations of secrecy
Mine opponents have objected to what they call Sunrise’s secrecy regarding the mine and how they have tried to suppress public discussion. According to an email obtained by Prairie Rivers Network and supplied to Midwest Energy News, a Sunrise representative emailed Homer Mayor David Lucas in April 2012 saying: "If you receive any inquiry from the press, please direct them to me. It’s important that we not discuss any aspect of the project in public before our permit is secure. I’m sure you understand the challenges it can bring up. I’ll call you later and we can discuss a plan for dealing with the press."
Local farmers have expressed concerns that the mined land will subside, causing disruptions to drainage tile -- the elaborate system of subsurface pipe that allows the flat, wet ground to be farmed.
- Owner: Sunrise Coal
- Parent company:
- Location: Vermilion County, Illinois
- GPS coordinates:
- Type of coal: High-sulfur
- Mine type: Underground
- Equipment: Room-and-pillar
- Number of employees: 300 (projected)
- Recoverable Reserves:
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- Dan Ferber, "Neighbors cite water concerns in opposition to Illinois coal mine," Midwest Energy News, August 20, 2012.