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Company plans to expand coal mine

Great Northern Power Development, a parent company of South Heart Coal LLC, withdrew its state permit application for coal mine near South Heart Wednesday, but will be applying for a larger permit later this year.

The application would have encompassed 275 acres of land near South Heart.

"The state regulation doesn't allow for excavation of test pits, and for excavation and exploration of coal resources," said Rich Voss, vice-president for Great Northern. "We would have used this for samples for testing of our coal by third parties including GTLE."

Voss said while the application for the small mine has been withdrawn, it will be included in an application for a larger mine, about 4,500 acres, which will be submitted later this year.

"We think this will allow for us to keep both our energy project and GTLE's demonstration plant moving forward as scheduled," Voss said.

Part of the reasoning behind withdrawing the application, Voss said, is to clear up some misconceptions.

"We're basically withdrawing the small mine permit application to clarify that there is a distinction between our mine, this small mine, and GTLE's coal beneficiation demonstration plant," Voss said. "There is no connection between these two projects. This will demonstrate they are not connected."

Voss said he submitted the withdrawal to the state public service commission and to the state department of health. The new application for the larger mine will be submitted sometime during the fourth quarter this year, he added.

Wednesday, Dakota Resource Council released this prepared statement of Frank and Lucy Hurt of South Heart regarding the withdrawal of the permit:

"This is a victory for us and our community. The South Heart mine posed an immediate threat to our livelihood and that of our neighbors. As we do our calving check tonight, we'll be breathing a little easier."