BLM proposes to offer mine access to big deposit of coal
The Bureau of Land Management is proposing acceptance of a request to add 317 acres to an existing federal coal lease for the McClane Canyon Mine 18 miles north of Fruita.
Besides adding about 2 million tons of coal reserves to the currently inactive mine, owned by CAM-Colorado, LLC, the lease modification would enable the company to access about 16 million tons of coal within its existing lease area that otherwise might be unrecoverable, according to a draft environmental assessment announced Tuesday.
The BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office is proposing issuing a finding that the modification will have no significant environmental impact.
The underground mine had been in operation since the 1980s but was idled in December 2010 after the closure of its only customer, the Cameo Power Plant. The mine historically produced about 280,000 tons a year. CAM-Colorado hopes to reopen the mine, expand production to 500,000 tons and ship the coal to Eastern markets.
CAM-Colorado also has been pursuing BLM approval that could lead to the opening of the proposed Red Cliff Mine, which would be a much larger operation east of the existing mine.
BLM spokesman Christopher Joyner said the proposed McClane Canyon lease modification would allow the mine to go around a wet, unstable section that is unsafe to mine, and access coal in its existing lease that otherwise would have to be bypassed. That could include an estimated 2.2 million tons of recoverable coal to the north, and possibly 14 million recoverable tons to the south.
The BLM also has received a request for a royalty rate reduction to 5 percent from the standard 8 percent underground coal mine rate for the McClane Canyon Mine, something that can be sought for reasons such as adverse geological conditions.
The BLM is seeking public comment on its draft environmental assessment on the lease modification. That document is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html.