By Jessica Casey
August 2, 2022 - Bens Creek Group plc, the owner of a metallurgical coal mine in North America supplying the steel industry, has provided an infrastructure update following the severe flooding in the Western part of the West Virginia and the Eastern Kentucky region since Wednesday 27 July 2022.
The Appalachian region of Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky experienced, from Wednesday 27 July through to Saturday 30 July, severe levels of rainfall and flooding not seen for decades, causing downed trees, power outages, disruption to the water system and road blockages. A state of emergency has been declared in certain parts of these areas, whilst several deaths have been reported in Eastern Kentucky. The areas adjacent to the company's infrastructure in West Virginia which have been affected are Mingo County and Logan.
During this particularly difficult time, the company’s mining team, including its contractors, have been able to prioritise health and safety in order to achieve zero fatalities, injuries, and safety incidents and to provide invaluable assistance to the local community to prevent any further damage, caused by the flood waters.
The vast majority of the company's infrastructure was unaffected by the unusual weather pattern other than the railway system, which did suffer some damage to railway ties along with the sheer volume of water having washed away ballast along several sections of the railway line. However, it is pleasing to report the railway track itself did not suffer any damage. The company was also able to source replacement ballast to ensure the material washed away was replaced ahead of the imminent arrival of trains from Norfolk Southern.
The repairs to the railway line have been completed and passed an inspection undertaken by the rail operator on 1 August 2022.
With the imminent arrival of a train scheduled for the week commencing 1 August 2022, it was important for the company to ensure the railway track was fully functional. Accordingly, the scheduling of the train for arrival at the Bens Creek site this coming week is expected to be unaffected.
The severe flooding has affected the logistical supply and transportation of metallurgical coal from West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky to the various ports linking to the Norfolk Southern railway system. This has resulted in Norfolk Southern, agreeing to supply three trains to the Bens Creek site over the next seven days to meet the backlog in supply.
Adam Wilson, Chief CEO of Bens Creek, commented: “Firstly, I need to thank each and every member of our team, who worked tirelessly round the clock from Wednesday night, often through the night on multiple nights in succession in very difficult conditions, both to allow the huge levels of water to flow down the Bens Creek mountain and into the Tug river, with minimal damage to property, and then to work around the clock again repairing the damage to our railway line so that we are able to accommodate additional trains into the Bens Creek site to help the logistical difficulties caused in the region.
“It is normal for the CEO to thank his staff, but on this occasion, my staff went over and above what could have been expected, as well as maintaining and protecting the assets of the company for the benefit of all shareholders. The staff at Bens Creek have also been active in the community trying to help where possible and to minimise any further damage and to prevent the loss of life.
“It is also a testament to the quality of the remediation of the railway line in the first place that it largely withstood the severe flooding in the area.”