Late last week the Bureau of Land Management announced a date for a public hearing on a proposed lease by New Elk Coal Mine, west of Trinidad, of 1,279 acres that holds approximately 8 million tons of recoverable federal coal, below a privately owned surface. The hearing is scheduled for July 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mt. Carmel, 911 Robinson Ave. in Trinidad.
Recently, the BLM released a draft Environmental Assessment for public review that evaluates a Lease-by-Application for New Elk Coal Company, LLC’s New Elk Mine. BLM says the coal is metallurgical quality coal typically used for steel manufacturing.
“If approved, this lease will allow New Elk to access federally owned coal from its current facilities at the site,” said the BLM. “The coal would be mined by underground mining methods with no surface disturbance. Access to this coal is anticipated to extend the longevity of the mine by five years once New Elk resumes coal mining operations.
At peak production levels, the New Elk Mine would employ up to 175 people.”
According to the BLM, verbal comments related to the proposal will be accepted at the public hearing. All other comments must be submitted electronically. The proposal, including maps and information about how to submit comments electronically, are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xENMj. Comments must be submitted through that site and must be received by August 5.
“The BLM supports working landscapes across the West through multiple-use programs like coal,” said BLM Royal Gorge Field Manager Keith Berger. “We welcome diverse views and look forward to hearing from the public.”
According to information provided by the BLM:
— Coal mines in Colorado generated $35 million in Federal royalties in 2017. (This revenue is split with the State of Colorado [$17.5 million].)
— Mining coal from BLM Colorado lands and minerals generated $742.5 million in total economic output in 2017.
— Currently, there are six producing coalmines in the State of Colorado (two are surface mines, the remaining four are subsurface mines) totaling 60,000 acres and with an estimated economic output of $1.2 billion.
— There are 51 coal leases in Colorado, covering 80,203 acres.
As for the commenting process, the BLM cautions, “Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or any other personal identifying information in your comments, please be aware that your entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While individuals may request BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public view, the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.”
New Elk Coal Company is a subsidiary of Cline Mining. The BLM first announced New Elk’s application in February.
The coal magnate behind Cline Mining, Chris Cline, was killed along with his daughter in a helicopter crash in the Bahamas on Thursday, July 4.
New Elk Coal Mine has not yet announced plans to resume mining. When they might resume mining is still unknown.