On March 28 the Interior Board of Land Appeals upheld the Bureau of Land Management's decision to lease coal seams containing 786 acres of federal coal for development in the Elk Creek Mine near Somerset.
The BLM issued a decision record in June of last year to hold a lease sale for the coal in response to an application submitted by Oxbow Mining LLC. The BLM's decision was challenged by WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club.
The IBLA affirmed the BLM's decision and adequacy of the BLM's National Environmental Policy Act analysis.
The BLM estimates there is 3.96 million tons of recoverable federal coal tied to this tract, which would result in $6.3 million in royalties, half of which would be returned to Colorado.
The Oxbow Elk Creek Mine has been in operation since 2002 and produced about three million tons of coal in 2011. Currently, the majority of the mine's employees, as well as their families, live in communities in Delta County. The mine is located in Gunnison County, which receives about $1.1 million annually in tax revenues from coal mining operations. Three active mines currently exist in the North Fork — all mining public federal coal.
The mining companies are the largest property tax revenue sources for Gunnison County. Total direct economic benefits associated with mines in the North Fork Valley exceed $60 million annually.blog comments powered by Disqus