Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, center, with SWEPCO President and COO Venita McCellon-Allen and local public officials, cut the ribbon to open SWEPCO’s Oxbow Mine facility. Almost 200 employees, local officials and news media gathered October 27 to dedicate the new Oxbow Mine facility for SWEPCO’s Dolet Hills Lignite Company. The Dolet Hills Power Station is co-owned by Cleco and SWEPCO; mining began in 1985, and the plant went into commercial operation in 1986. The original mine reserves were good for a 25-year life.
The mine reserves expanded in 2009 when Oxbow Mine was purchased from North American Coal. SWEPCO operates both the Dolet Hills and Oxbow reserves under the Dolet Hills Lignite Company, LLC.
During the summer of 2017, mining operations transitioned from the Dolet Hills Area (west of I-49) to the Oxbow Mining area (East of I-49) to continue economic value of both the power station and the mining operations. This included $140 million of capital investment in the new mining area.
Currently, Dolet Hills controls approximately 42,000 acres within the mine permit area. As part of the capital investment, a new five-mile conveyor belt system was constructed under I-49 to deliver lignite to the plant. The project also included working with the Department of Transportation to transport two large draglines, and associated mobile equipment, across I-49 in May and June 2017. A new office/shop/warehouse facility was constructed to accommodate the entire workforce in one facility.
This transition will extend the life of the mine for positive economic impact in the area with some 284 full-time employees and around 90 contractors on site daily. With this transition, 100 percent, or approximately 3.4 million tons of lignite per year, will be conveyed to the plant.
SWEPCO has determined that lignite is still an important fuel of choice in the company’s resource mix.