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Wasatch Plateau tops state's coal production chart

Last year, mining companies operating in the Wasatch Plateau field accounted for 58.6 percent of Utah's coal production.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Geological Survey indicate that production by mining operations on the Wasatch Plateau dipped slightly in 2007 from the 59.4 percent of total statewide extraction reported in 2006.

Skyline mine restarted longwall operations in May of 2006, pointed the state agency's coal production and forecast report.

The Skyline operation produced 1.8 million short tons in 2006 and 2.6 million tons in 2007.

The Bear Canyon number four mine also started longwall production in late 2007.

The Bear Canyon operation increased production from 462,000 short tons in 2006 to 653,000 tons last year.

However, the increases posted at Skyline and Bear Canyon were offset by the dropping production levels posted by four Wasatch Plateau mines, pointed out the 2007 coal data analysis and forecast report.

The mines experiencing significant coal production decreases in 2007 included:

•SUFCO, 15.1 percent.

•Horizon, 9.2 percent.

•Deer Creek 1.7 percent.

•Crandall Canyon, 34.7 percent.

The coal extraction levels on the Wasatch Plateau field are expected to increase in 2008 as the Bear Canyon mine nearly quadruples production with full-year longwall operation, noted the Utah Geological Survey analysis and forecast report.

Following the Wasatch Plateau field, the Book Cliffs accounted for 37.1 percent of Utah's total coal production in 2007.

The production total represented the second highest level reported by mines operating in the Book Cliffs since 2004's statewide share of 38.9 percent.

Overall production from the Book Cliffs mines decreased by 5.5 percent to nine million short tons last year.

The Utah Geological Survey analysts predict that production from the Book Cliffs field will drop an additional 7.7 percent in 2008.

Production at UtahAmerican's Aberdeen mine dropped from 2.1 million short tons in 2006 to one million tons in 2007.

The decrease, a result of the company closing Aberdeen for safety reasons from late August 2007 to late January 2008, was pointed out by the state agency's report.

Canyon Fuel's Dugout operation also decreased production from 4.3 million short tons in 2006 to 3.8 million tons in 2007 as the company encountered difficult mining conditions.

In contrast, the West Ridge mine increased production in 2007 by 34.3 percent to a total of 4.2 million tons.

The Book Cliffs coal field should become a more prominent producer in the future with opening of the Lila Canyon mine, projected the state agency analysts.

Lila Canyon's production would offset losses from the closed Aberdeen mine.

The Emery field accounted for one million short tons or 4.2 percent of Utah's total coal production in 2007.

The Emery mine reopened in August 2004, producing 256,000 short tons before the year concluded.

Mining has been continuous on the Emery coal field from 2005 to 2007.

The rest of Utah's coal fields remained inactive in 2007.

However, a proposed surface mining operation in the Alton field has the potential to produce up to two million short tons of coal per year, concluded the Utah Geological Survey's 2007 data and forecast report.

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