Mining company behind on taxes
Bowie owes $1M to Delta County
Bowie Resources Mine, which closed temporarily Friday, has missed both property-tax payments to Delta County, in which it is the largest taxpayer.
Officials with the company are searching for additional funding, Delta County Treasurer Jim Ventrello said Wednesday.
The owners of Bowie Resources Mine No. 2, northeast of Paonia, are searching for backing that will allow them to meet their current obligations as well as change the direction in which the mine is digging, Ventrello said.
Bowie owes just over $1 million and interest to the county after missing its property tax payments in February and June and, as will all delinquent landowners, will be listed for sale at a tax auction, Ventrello said.
“They have still not paid anything this year,” Ventrello said.
A mine employee who asked not to be identified said Wednesday that employees were told they would be paid, but none received end-of-the-month checks.
The United Mine Workers Union doesn’t represent the employees, the union said.
A large percentage of Bowie’s workforce holds mine-foreman papers, which makes it “one of the most skilled workforces in the industry,” according to a Union Pacific Railroad website describing the mine.
Though he was in regular e-mail contact with mine officials, he had “no heads up that this was going to happen,” Ventrello said of the closure.
In March, Bowie made three payments of $550,000 on taxes from the previous year under a deal struck with the county commission.
So far this year, Commissioner Olen Lund said, he has had no direct communication with the company. Lund’s district includes the mine.
“I’ve heard things, but I don’t know what to believe,” Lund said.
Among the problems with which Bowie is dealing, Ventrello said, is a slowdown in demand for coal and a switch from coal to gas for baseload power by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a major buyer of Bowie coal.
In addition to that, Bowie also is shifting the mine away from some geological problems and heading instead up Stevens Gulch northwest of Paonia, Ventrello said.
Moving the longwall-mining equipment is a long and expensive process and the mine is “probably six months out from cash flow,” Ventrello said. “We’re all here with our fingers crossed and hoping that their negotiations bring funding.”
Officials at the mine didn’t return calls and the phone number for Appalachian Fuels LLC in Kentucky, a parent company of Bowie, was disconnected.
No one returned calls at Illinois Fuels, another company related to Bowie.