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Published: 24 October 2011
FirstEnergy, Boich sell partial interest in Signal Peak coal mine
The FirstEnergy Corp. and Boich Companies' subsidiaries that jointly own the Signal Peak coal mine in Montana have sold a one-third interest in the venture for $400M to Pinesdale LLC, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Gunvor Group, Ltd., one of the world's leading commodity traders.
As part of the definitive purchase agreement, FirstEnergy and Boich Companies will transfer their interests in Signal Peak mine to Global Mining Holding Company, LLC (Global Holding), a new holding company that will include various Signal Peak entities.
FirstEnergy Ventures, a FirstEnergy subsidiary, WMB Marketing, a Boich subsidiary, and Gunvor Group each will own a one-third interest in Global Holding.
FirstEnergy and Boich Companies, a privately held Columbus, Ohio-based coal company, originally purchased Signal Peak in 2008 as a joint venture, with FirstEnergy acquiring a 45% interest for $125M. In 2009 FirstEnergy invested an additional $8.5M, increasing its interest to 50%.
"This transaction will continue to maximise both the mine and rail investment we have made in Montana over the last three years and make our operation even stronger," said Wayne Boich, president and CEO, Boich Companies.
"One of the key advantages that Gunvor Group brings to this venture is the ability to utilise their commodity trading relationships in such markets as Japan, China, Korea and Chile to sell more coal."
"We're very excited about entering the coal business with two leaders in the field like FirstEnergy and Boich Companies," said Timothy Legge, chairman of Gunvor S.A.
"Signal Peak represents our first investment in a coal mine located in the U.S. It presents Gunvor with the opportunity to use the existing rail and port operations to market this high quality, low sulphur bituminous coal to expanding markets around the world, particularly in the Pacific and Asia markets through our arrangements with Westshore Terminals in Vancouver, the prime coal moving terminal on the West Coast.
“Because Westshore is a deep water port we can utilise large bulk carriers capable of holding up to 200,000 tons of coal."
As part of the new agreement, FirstEnergy Generation Corp., a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has revised its original coal purchase agreement with Signal Peak to reduce from 7.5 mtpa to no more than 2 mt each year of the mine's production.
Since 2008, operations at Signal Peak have been expanded, new equipment has been installed and a 35-mile rail spur to an existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway line was built.