Reprinted with permission from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial, June 15, 2022

Sunrise Coal announced further investment in Knox County this week, this time with the reopening of the Freelandville Surface Mine.

According to a press release, Terre Haute-based Hallador Energy Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sunrise Coal, is working now to reopen the Freelandville Surface Mine, which closed back in 2016.

Reopening the Freelandville Mine is one of a handful of new investments Hallador is making in southwestern Indiana, both to mine more coal and use it right here at home, according to the release.

In February, Hallador announced that it would acquire the Merom Power Plant in Sullivan County, subject to certain governmental and regulatory approvals.

Hallador now anticipates completing the purchase sometime in the third quarter and has entered into a multi-year Power Purchase Agreement with Hoosier Energy, the release states.

Hallador expects that, eventually, more than half of Sunrise Coal’s annual coal production will be consumed at the Merom Power Plant, securing a “long-term demand for Sunrise’s large coal reserve base,” the release states.

Other investments made by Hallador include resuming operations at its Russellville, Illinois, elevator earlier this year.

“This investment provides a closer location for employees located near the Russellville area to access the Oaktown II underground mine,” the release states.

Also, in Pike County, Sunrise will begin new surface mining operations at its Prosperity Mine, located near Petersburg.

As such, Sunrise Coal will need to hire approximately 200 new employees; officials are seeking both “experienced and non-experienced personnel,” according to the release, for both its underground and surface operations.

Employees who meet the criteria can receive a $3,000 sign-on retention bonus, with $1,500 paid after five months of employment and the other $1,500 paid after 11 months.

The release states that wages of up to $30 per hour are possible.

As Hallador Energy/Sunrise Coal continues its expansion in southwest Indiana and in Lawrence County, Illinois, they expect their employee base to grow in excess of 1,000 people, the release states.

Hallador officials, too, are touting continued focus on coal miner safety.

“Mining enjoys an incident rate of non-fatal occupational injuries that is better than agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, health care, manufacturing, and construction according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the release states. “Additionally, Sunrise is proud to maintain a safety record that is far better than its industry average.

“Couple its safety record with an on-site award-winning mine rescue team, and it is obvious those that value safety chose Hallador/Sunrise.”