By Dayton Business Journal

SunCoke Energy has acquired Harold Keene Coal Co., a Virginia coal producer, for $40 million.

SunCoke, which Philadelphia-based gasoline retailer Sunoco Inc. (NYSE:SUN) plans to spin off, said it will manage Harold Keene Coal as part of its Jewell coal and coke operations in Vansant, Va., about 20 miles north of Honaker, where the newly acquired company is based.

In Ohio, SunCoke operates a plant in Haverhill along the Ohio River, as well as two others in the Midwest. The company is building a plant in Middletown that is scheduled to start running in the second half of the year. The Middletown operation will be able to produce 550,000 tons of coke annually and produce 46 megawatts of electricity from the coking process. It will supply AK Steel's (NYSE: AKS) plant nearby.

Harold Keene Coal has two active underground mines, an active surface mine and one active high-wall mine that together them produce 250,000 to 300,000 tons of coal a year and have the potential to expand production in the future. Its coal reserves total at least 16 million tons.

SunCoke's U.S. operations have the capacity to make about 3.7 million tons of coke annually. Fritz Henderson, who will run SunCoke when its is separated from Sunoco, said he deal for Harold Keene Coal "significantly increases SunCoke Energyâ¿¿s coal reserves, representing an important step forward in building the value proposition we offer customers."

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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