August 1985

Holdings in Several Coal Mines in the U.S.

The Weisser family has owned stakes in several coal mines in the U.S. since 1974, either directly or though Marquard & Bahls. This business, however, has yet to generate the desired results for a number of reasons, such as dropping prices and the lack of technical expertise. To make the coal business profitable, it is necessary to take stock of the situation, based on the following criteria:

  • the amount of existing minable coal
  • the options for acquiring further coal deposits
  • the available means for extracting the coal
  • the mining costs per ton of coal
  • the existing waste deposits at the coal deposits and in the existing mines.
  • The height of the seam, the ease of access to it and its sulfur content

Roag Melcroft and Roag Kentucky do not sufficiently fulfill many of these parameters. The existing coal deposits being mined by Carter Roag in West Virginia are identified as an opportunity to run a viable mining business. The aim is to inexpensively extract large amounts of coal, as this is the only way to succeed given the tumbling coal prices. To do this, the reserves will have to be stretched to such an extent that it is economically feasible to use modern technology to extract, dress, transport and store the coal. So Marquard & Bahls buys new mining equipment; lays tracks in the mine to get workers and ancillary equipment to the coal face faster; upgrades the coal-washing plant; and creates a modern loading facility for the railway freight cars used to transport the coal to the consumer. To put these measures into action, Marquard & Bahls also and primarily needed new staff – from mine director to foreman. This was the only way to introduce the new mining philosophy and have the new technology accepted. The search for new employees is most successful, and the company by 1985 has a highly motivated team in place in every department, e.g. mining, administration and sales. Over the past few years, Marquard & Bahls has succeeded, thanks to this team, in greatly reducing costs even quicker than the rate at which the price of coal had fallen. This means that first profits are expected in 1986, or at the very latest by 1987.