County grants coal mine's request for zoning change near Scofield
During a presentation proposing the rezoning of an area near Scofield last week, Carbon County commissioners learned that a coal production operation previously called Columbine, Union Pacific and Kinney mine is being prepared to reopen next year.
The mine, which will be known as Kinney 2, will begin coal production soon, according to Greg Hunt, who represented Carbon Resources at the regularly scheduled commission meeting.
"We hope to be producing about two million tons of coal per year by 2011," said Hunt. "Until then, we will be working up toward that amount each year."
The mine was central to the public hearing conducted by the county on the request to change the zoning from watershed to mountain range at the site. Only one resident came forward to speak about the proposal.
"I have property in Scofield and it looks right at the mine portal," commented Jeff Smith during the public hearing. "That area is also our watershed and I have to wonder if it is best for the county to have a mine there again. We already have three other mines operating within that watershed. I also have to wonder if there is enough coal there left to mine."
Hunt pointed out that the mine has about 55 million tons of reserves in it and that with the present technology 20 million of those are recoverable.
"The higher price of coal has made it so we can reopen this mine and get the coal out," said Hunt. "It won't be easy to get at, but now it is cost effective."
Hunt told Smith that he was sensitive to his concerns and that a public meeting in Scofield was being held Saturday night (Oct. 20) to address the community's concerns.
Gayla Williams, deputy director of planning and zoning, pointed out that the rezoning was just part of the process toward getting the coal mine running. The county will require a conditional use permit for the mine to operate and that will spell out many of the concerns and mitigation measures to assure water quality, cleanliness and orderly operations in the area.
"The zone change needs to be done before the company can apply for a permit to operate from the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining," said Williams.
The change had been recommended after the county's planning and zoning board reviewed the plan.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, all three commissioners voted to approve the requested zoning change.
After the commission acted on the proposal, the discussion continued about how the mine might affect the local community and the county as a whole.
"I see here that part of the proposal by the mine is to provide between $400,000 to $500,000 in support for emergency services in the Scofield area," said Commissioner Bill Krompel. "The mine would provide for an ambulance and EMTs for the area, not only industrial situations, but for the community. Essentially, the mine will be paying for all ambulance services."
Hunt indicated that the company operates other mines, one of which is in Colorado. When the Colorado mine was opened, many of the local residents were opposed to the production facility because of concern about dirt and grime in town due to the operations.
But Hunt pointed out that the opinions of the town's residents have changed because the company took steps to make certain that the mining operation did not affect the town in a negative way.
In addition, Hunt said the company expects the local mine to have a 20-year life because there are reserves available in the area through federal leases that have not been secured yet.
As the commissioners discussed the proposed mine, they brought up the fact that the coal production operation could have a major economic impact on the county as a result of fairly significant payroll and federal mineral lease royalties that would come back to local government as well.
The company intends to approach the county's planning and zoning board in the near future with a request for a conditional use permit to begin operations at the mine site.