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 Post subject: Colliery still mining, processing anthracite
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2015 7:06 am 
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Colliery still mining, processing anthracite


Elizabeth Skrapits

Published: May 31, 2015

LAFLIN — A truck towing an empty trailer pauses on a huge scale to be weighed before the driver fills it from the heaps of anthracite glittering in the late spring sunlight.

Silverbrook Anthracite, a branch of the Casey-Kassa Coal Co., was started in Dupont in the 1950s by the Casey-Kasa family (although all from the same family, their names are spelled differently).

Mine superintendent Chris Kasa said the family-owned and operated company, now headquartered in Laflin and with a second facility in Nanticoke, is probably one of the last in the region to do everything from mining anthracite coal to preparing it and selling it.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is the state’s only source of anthracite and has the largest reserves of it in the nation. Unlike the bituminous or “soft” coal found in other parts of the state, anthracite does not ignite easily, but once lit it burns hotter and without smoke, due to a high carbon content.

One of the problems faced by coal operators today is that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration keeps merging regulations for anthracite coal with those for the more volatile and messier bituminous coal, according to Kasa.

“All the stuff they’re making us do, we don’t have to do,” he said.

Since 1808, when Judge Jesse Fell discovered he could burn anthracite in an open grate for heating his Wilkes-Barre residence, hard coal has been in demand for heating purposes.

Later it was also used for fueling locomotive engines — the Lackawanna Railroad famously featured “Phoebe Snow” in advertisements, a woman who kept her dress clean and white by riding the “road of anthracite” — and industrial purposes such as manufacturing and iron smelting. Anthracite literally fueled the Industrial Revolution: “It’s how we got to where we are,” Kasa said.

Today, anthracite is still used for purposes such as water filtration and making charcoal briquets.

“There will always be a use for some coal product,” Kasa said.

As when it was first mined, home heating is still the main use for anthracite, and Kasa said that’s what Silverbrook primarily sells it for. Sometimes there are shortages — it sells out almost daily during cold snaps, he said — but Silverbrook tries to take care of local customers first. Kasa said the company does not export coal.

Although Silverbrook Anthracite once had several mines, there is currently only one operating, a strip mine in Archbald. Kasa said the company also buys coal from other sources, including other mines in the Hazleton area or from quarry owners who run into it while in pursuit of other minerals.

“We can’t mine as much as we sell, so we have to supplement it with other coal,” he said.

The Silverbrook Anthracite breaker, built in the 1950s, is what Kasa calls low-tech, but it is still far more advanced than those used in the late 19th and early 20th century. In those days, coal was often broken up by hand, with “breaker boys” as young as 8 years old sorting it and picking out the slate.

Today the process is far less labor-intensive, and it only takes a few people to run the automated facilities.

Kasa outlines the process of what happens after coal from the mine in Archbald is trucked down to the breaker in Laflin for processing.

The coal is fed into the crushing plant to be broken up into smaller pieces. From there, it travels by conveyor belt into the sorting facility. The coal goes through a heavy media drum, where the medium of magnetite is added to make the water denser so the coal floats and the rock sinks.

After that the coal goes on a shaker table to be rinsed off and sorted by size. Anthracite is more desirable in smaller sizes like “rice,” “pea” and “buckwheat” because it is easier to burn.

The processed coal is stored in piles for customers to purchase or to be delivered to peoples’ homes; the company keeps a small fleet of trucks for the purpose.

To finish the process, the rock that is separated from the coal is returned to the Archbald mine site, Kasa said.

“Trucks go up to the mine with a load of rock and come back with a load of coal,” he said.



eskrapits@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2072

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 Post subject: Re: Colliery still mining, processing anthracite
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:53 pm
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Location: Ringgold GA
Underground or strippin?

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 Post subject: Re: Colliery still mining, processing anthracite
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:16 pm
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
Stripping.

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