County planners vote in favor of new coal mine at Scofield
The Carbon County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a new coal mine whose portal and surface facilities would be on the east side of Scofield Town. The proposed Kinney No. 2 mine is designed to employ about 200 miners and produce between 2 million and 3 million tons per year. This would be coal that belongs to Carbon County, which stands to collect royalties.
In recommending that the County Commission approve the conditional use permit, planners advised that county permission should be granted only if mine owner Carbon Resources, LLC, clears all the federal and state hurdles necessary to begin operation.
Gregory Hunt, part owner of Carbon Resources, told the planning commission that the permitting process is under way on highway modification, air and water quality, surface disturbance and mine safety issues. He said that the mine will rely on the town for water and sewer services. "It is our desire to benefit the local people wherever possible. The mine will get the services and Scofield will get additional revenue. It's a symbiotic relationship," he explained.
Responding to questions from commissioner Lynna Topolovec, Hunt said that noise from the mine's ventilating fan might be heard in parts of town in the early stages of construction. The mine intends to use bigger blades rotating at slower speeds than customary. This and other adjustments in construction should minimize the sound, he explained. As mining proceeds underground further from town, the fans will move.
Some proposed surface facilities will be in town limits, others will be in the unincorporated county. The bathhouse, loadout structures and other surface work will be visible from town. Coal transport would initially be by truck, with plans to ship by nearby rail later.
Carbon County acquired the mineral rights years ago in a tax sale from a grazing company. Some mining has already been tried, but was abandoned because of faulting in the seam. In this kind of situation, the coal seam is not perfectly flat and continuously horizontal. In the past, miners working a particular seam of coal would run into a solid wall of sandstone because the strata have moved up or down along fault lines. Hunt, a geologist, said this problem can be overcome.
If all goes according to schedule, construction could begin next spring or summer, Hunt said.