Abandoned mine reported
A landowner’s report of an inactive, open coal mine in the West End of Montrose County has state officials asking whether similar hazards exist.
The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety is asking landowners in the Nucla-Naturita-Norwood area to report on similar instances.
The open mine hadn’t been identified in any previous efforts to close mine openings, said Camille Price, project manager for the division. “I’m thinking that if there is one landowner who knows of a mine opening on their property, there are likely others,” she said.
The division plans to close the inactive mine in 2014 at an estimated cost of $6,000, Price said.
The mine mouth is a deep hole hidden by surrounding sagebrush. Officials didn’t know its depth, but when a rock was dropped down, “it was a full seven seconds before we couldn’t hear it tumbling,” Price said.
Open mines pose several hazards, from loose rock to lethal gases that can overcome people inside, Price said. They also can harbor bears, wildcats, bats, rodents and insects.
If bats are found roosting or hibernating in inactive mines, they can be closed with equipment that allows bats access to the interior, Price said.