Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Walls of Coal.

Byline: Bill Papich For the Journal

Revolutionary method pushes production to 'unreal' level

WATERFLOW Forget the pictures of grimy underground coal miners emerging from their dark, narrow tunnels on rusty mine trains.

Imagine coal miners going to and from work in brand-new pickup trucks, through well ventilated tunnels wide enough for passing lanes.

That is the coming scene at the $148 million "long wall" underground mine, where BHP Minerals is set to burrow into an exposed, horizontal coal seam 16 to 20 feet thick east of San Juan Generating Station.

The mine, which will begin at the bottom of an open-pit coal mine, is destined to be one of the largest "long wall" mines in the United States, according to BHP.

"There are a lot of mines that never would have survived if it wasn't due to 'long wall' mining," said Jack Kuzar, a district manager for the Denver office of Coal Mining Safety and Health, part of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"It's unreal what you can produce," he said.

BHP, or Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. …

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