Old Ben #25 Reopened

(West Frankfort, IL)--A Heartland coal mine that has set idle for more then 10 years could be brought back to life, if a Kentucky coal company can get control of the mining permit.

Destiny Coal has applied for a transfer of the mining permit on Old Ben #25 in West Frankfort. If the company is successful in reopening the mine, it could mean hundreds of jobs for Southern Illinois. But the last time anyone was down in the mine, is when it was a tourist attraction.

"That mine has been full of water ever since the museum ceased operations 2 to 3 years ago. Theres been no maintenance on that mine at all," says Don McBride of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Mines and Minerals.

McBride says he wonders how much damage the water has done to the old mine shafts. "I don't know what impact that would have on the concrete lining, and the metal frame work for the hoist, and all the mechanical components that went down into those shafts. I would imagine all of that will have to be replaced," McBride said. But some folks who've waited for years for the old mine to be put back in operation are hopeful that Destiny Coal can do just that.

"I tell you what I hope they do. Theres a lot of coal out there, theres a lot of people who need work. And we need anything we can get around here," says Jerry Morrison of West Frankfort.

But according to McBride it'll take several years and millions of dollars spent by Destiny Coal before any coal could be mined. "We're looking at at least 2 years of construction and you don't go out to these properties and do work like that and not spend a lot of money in that amount of time."