In 2008, The Boich Group of Companies and FirstEnergey Utility in Ohio entered into a 50/50 partnership to purchase the Signal Peak Coal Mine in Montana, formerly belonging to the Bull Mountain Coal Company.
Boich Companies and FirstEnergy are equal partners in Signal Peak Energy and have spent a considerable amount of money on the Signal Peak Project to help get the mine back up and working successfully. They are going to ensure it is the most profitable underground mine of its kind in the united states with the coal being sold all across the United States of America and the Pacific Rim Countries.
Following a busy year of construction, the Signal Peak Energy mine site is now a very different place to what it was. A completely new infrastructure has been introduced and the site converted into a modern industrial complex with its own railroad spur. The complex now includes a shop, warehouse, new offices, storage silos along with a large conveyor system. There is the addition of an impressive new wash plant that is capable of cleaning 2,000 tons of coal each hour.
The cost of developing the 36-mile railroad spur alone was $105 million. This rail spur ties into the BNSF main line 3 miles south of Broadview at a crossing which was named “Walter” honoring the world’s oldest man, 112-year-old Walter Breuning of Great Falls. For half a century, this Montanan worked for BNSF’s predecessor, the Great Northern Railway.
The Signal Peak Mine hires 190 people and it is expected to supply 7 million tonnes of coal each year. This is approximately one-third of the coal required by FirstEnergy who’ve signed a 20 year contract with Signal Peak Energy. At optimum efficiency, the Signal Peak mine can load seven trains every day of 120 to 150 cars. Montana coal has been discovered to generate more heat per ton than Powder River coal: 10,300 British thermal units in comparison to 8,000 Btus. Meaning FirstEnergy can ship less coal to generate exactly the same energy, which helps compensate for railroad shipping costs. It is this combination that will allow coal to be reasonably competitive with alternative fuels in Ohio.
The opening of the Signal Peak Mine and Dedication of the railroad junction was commemorated by an illustrious group from The Boich Group, Signal Peak Energy, FirstEnergy, Montana politicians, BNSF Railway executives and Governor Brian Schweitzer.