Given the bankruptcy filings of two the country’s largest coal miners earlier this year, it may seem like a bit of wishful thinking that a new coal miner has filed for an initial public offering (IPO). Ramaco Resources Inc. is a Kentucky-based mining firm with four currently non-operating mines in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
In its December 29 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it expects to begin commercial operations in the first quarter of 2017 with annual production of 1.1 million tons of metallurgical coal aimed at a target customer base of U.S. steel mills and coking plants.
Ramaco noted in its filing that U.S. coal miners produced 66 million tons of metallurgical coal in 2015 to meet North American demand of 21 to 22 million tons and export demand of 46.3 million tons. The company believes that a recent decision in China to curtail domestic product has created an anticipated shortfall in supply and is the cause of recent price increases for metallurgical coal.
The company currently counts 27 employees, including its named executives, and another 19 operational employees at its preparation plant at one location. Ramaco does not indicate how many employees it expects to hire, but it does report that it expects to produce 4.06 tons per employee hour (TPEH) in its first 10 years of operation, more than twice the current U.S. industry average of 1.81 TPEH.
Figuring that a single miner works 2,000 hours a year, that pencils out to 8,120 tons per year per employee. To reach 1.1 million tons in 2017 would require around 135 employees.
There are currently slightly more than 50,000 coal mining jobs in the United States, down from more than 80,000 in 2012.
President-elect Donald Trump heavily promoted his plan to revitalize the coal industry in Appalachia and 135 jobs is a start. But the problem that he faces is how to make that happen. He could boost subsidies to coal miners and reduce or eliminate altogether restrictions on carbon emissions that would make coal a more cost-effective fuel.
The timing for Ramaco’s IPO filing is probably not accidental. It’s time to start looking for a Trump tweet on how coal mining is already coming back and he isn’t even in the Oval Office yet.
Ramaco’s Form S-1 filing is available at the SEC website. The company said it plans to raise up to $100 million, and has filed to be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol METC.