Drummond Coal Won’t Renew Shepherd Bend Mine Permit

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Drummond Company Inc., a global leader in coal production and one of the largest private companies in the U.S., has faced controversy ever since it received a permit to mine coal at Shepherd Bend, an area close to an intake for Birmingham’s drinking water supply.

Many groups and consumers, worried about toxins and chemicals reaching the water, have been speaking out since the company got the permit in 2010. However, Drummond announced in a statement Friday that the company will not renew its permit to mine coal at Shepherd’s Bend.

The Reason

In the statement from Drummond, the company cited cost multiple times as the reason for terminating the project.

“With the drop in the price of coal worldwide,” says the statement, “the Company finds that the development of Shepherd’s Bend mine would not yield an acceptable rate of return to justify the investment.”

In other words, the company would spend more mining the coal than they would get back in revenue.

The statement also repeated that environmental concerns were not a factor in the decision, adding, “The Company would have mined coal in an environmentally safe manner.”

Is the Drinking Water Safe for Good?

Black Warrior Riverkeeper, an organization working to ensure clean water, has regularly spoken out against Drummond since the 2010 permit hearing.

In an announcement also released on Friday, Executive Director Charles Scribner said consumers and other groups shouldn’t jump for joy just yet.

“This appears to be fantastic news for water consumers,” he says, “but lacking certain key details, including whether this decision is permanent, it would be premature to declare victory.”

Scribner also says in the statement that because there is no mention of whether the University of Alabama will lease their land or mining rights to any other company in the future, there is still much to be settled.

“Our opposition to mining at Shepherd Bend was never specifically focused on Drummond,” he says, “and if another company ever showed interest in Shepherd Bend, we would mount the same opposition.”

 

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