|This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.|
Bulldog Mine is a proposed U.S. coal mine for Vermilion County, Illinois, by Indiana-based Sunrise Coal.
The map below shows the approximate location for the proposed mine near Allerton, Illinois.
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.
In June 2012, Sunrise Coal applied to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to extract coal from what they’re calling the Bulldog Mine.
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.
In April 2019, after nearly 10 years in review, the mining permit for Sunrise Coal’s Bulldog Mine has been issued. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved the permit after Sunrise Coal made multiple revisions to it. These revisions were made in response to public comment on the first draft at a hearing that took place over four years ago, resulting in a letter that required over 60 changes be made. Sunrise Coal (which recently hired Scott Pruitt as their lobbyist) was given a year to respond to those modifications and then two extensions for a total of two and a half years to finish revisions.
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 water 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.
- Sponsor: Sunrise Coal LLC
- Parent Company:
- Location: Vermilion County, Illinois, United States
- GPS Coordinates: 39.9150217, -87.9468917 (approximate)
- Status: Proposed
- Production Capacity:
- Total Resource:
- Mineable Reserves: 55 million tons
- Coal type: Bituminous
- Mine Size: Over 19,500 acres
- Mine Type: Underground
- Start Year:
- Source of Financing:
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To see a listing of coal mines in a particular state, click on the map:
- Dan Ferber, "Neighbors cite water concerns in opposition to Illinois coal mine," Midwest Energy News, August 20, 2012.
- "One Last Step for Bulldog Mine Permit," Prairie Rivers Network, April 23, 2019.
- Sunrise Coal Assets Sunrise Coal LLC, accessed October 2019.
- Bulldog Mine, Illinois Sunrise Coal LLC, accessed October 2019.