CEO of Australian Company Constructing New McLean County Coal Mine Resigns

Jun 14, 2018

Poplar Grove Mine in McLean County, Kentucky.
Credit paringaresources.com

The CEO of a company behind a new coal mine project in McLean County, Kentucky has resigned. The announcement from the Australian mining company Paringa Resources said managing director and CEO Grant Quasha is resigning as of June 18 to “pursue another opportunity.”

Quasha said in a Fox Business TV interview in September 2017 that the election of President Donald Trump has “ended the war on coal” and allowed Paringa to raise 40 million U.S. dollars in financing in the Australian equity markets, in addition to $20 million in project financing from Macquarie Bank in Australia for construction of the McLean County mine that will produce thermal coal for regional utilities. The mine is in what’s called “the Illinois Basin.” 


Thermal coal is used primarily in power plants to create electricity, while metallurgical coal is used for making steel.

The Poplar Grove Mine has faced a legal challenge from brothers Gordon and Ken Bryant, whose family has owned land in that area for more than 100 years. The Bryants claim the approval process was not in line with required procedures, and the coal mine landfill is located in an agricultural area and flood plain. The Bryants say toxic runoff from the project is a concern for local farmers. That lawsuit is ongoing.

Paringa reported in a March 15, 2018 update on the Poplar Grove Mine construction on its website that "...unseasonably heavy rains along the entire Ohio River valley has resulted in extensive regional flooding... Although all levee systems surrounding the barge load out facility and CHPP (Coal Handling Preparation Plant) were in operation and performed to design during this event, the mine site levee system was still under final construction and, as such, the slope open cut and mine area were impacted by flood water. This flooding halted construction activities at the site for approximately two weeks and... additional time will be required for site clean-up in saturated ground conditions and minor repairs... and delays to the completion schedule are expected to be less than four weeks. Actions are now underway to further reduce this schedule impact." The Paringa update reports that "...the final levees will provide protection against severe flood events in the same manner as the CHPP and barge load-out levee system were protected during this recent event. The entire system has been designed to protect the mine site and infrastructure against 1 in 100-year flood events."

Quasha said in a Fox Business TV interview on March 21, 2018 that that import tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by President Trump are expected to increase the demand for thermal coal. Quasha said the tariffs are expected to result in the restart of steel and aluminum plants in the U.S. that have been shuttered. That would increase the demand for power and therefore, the demand for thermal coal. 

Paringa says construction of the Poplar Grove Mine is expected to be complete in October, with the first coal to be on barges in December.