Located in the Powder
River Basin, in Campbell County, Wyoming, North Antelope Rochelle Mine is the
largest coal mine, by reserves, in not just the United States, but in the whole
world. Since its beginnings in 1983, this surface coal mine, which sits about
65 miles south of Gillette, Wyoming, has produced over 1.8 billion tonnes of
coal. However, North Antelope Rochelle wasn’t always one mine. It was, in fact,
two separate mines, the North Antelope, established in 1983, and the Rochelle,
established two years later in 1985. It wasn’t until 1999 that the two mines
became one, in order to create the North Antelope/Rochelle Complex, later
renamed as the North Antelope Rochelle Mine in 2003.

Based on information from
2012, North Antelope Rochelle has reserves of up to 2.3 billion tonnes, and
their production for that same year was about 108 million tonnes of thermal
coal. This mine, owned by Peabody Energy, has about 1,300 employees, 300 of
them being contract employees. The coal that North Antelope Rochelle produces
is sold to over forty customers who use it to generate electricity, which, in
turn, goes on to help run over eighty power plants country-wide.

Within the Powder River
Basin, North Antelope Rochelle is located within a zone known as the Wyodak-Anderson
coal zone. The coal beds in this region of the Powder River Basin are believed
to have been formed over sixty million years ago. Also, in this area, the coal
seams within the mine often span from 60-80 feet in thickness. These seams tend
to lie 100-400 feet below the surface.

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For production and
mining methods, North Antelope Rochelle is fairly conventional in their process,
primarily using dozer and casting, dragline, and truck and shovel methods. The overall
operation contains five truck and shovel fleets and three draglines. With their
three pits, they have four hoppers onto which the mined coal is hauled with. From
there, it is crushed and sent on a conveyer to be prepared for loading onto trains
and then transported. The railway system often used by North Antelope Rochelle is
Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Union Pacific railroads, which connect directly
with the come. They have two load outs and two loop tracks, the tracks able to haul
150 cars per train, and the load outs able to carry out ten thousand tonnes of coal
an hour.


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