Federal decision means San Juan Mine can stay open for 10 to 14 more years

The Daily Times staff
The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement gave the San Juan Mine in Waterflow a longer lease on life, extending authorization for mining operations there through 2033.

FARMINGTON — The San Juan Mine may stay open even if the San Juan Generating Station closes in 2022.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement — a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior that oversees federal coal mining — released a record of decision Tuesday in the deep lease extension environmental impact statement.

By granting the deep lease extension through 2033, the OSMRE is allowing the mine to continue operations as long as it has a customer.

This decision comes as Enchant Energy is evaluating placing carbon capture technology on the San Juan Generating Station, which would allow it to remain open after 2022. If the power plant remains open, it will need coal from the San Juan Mine.

Over the next 10 to 14 years, the San Juan Mine will be permitted to mine about 53 million tons of federal coal, or an average of three million tons annually.

A press release sent out by the OSMRE states the mine and San Juan Generating Station currently employ 371 people and indirectly supports 526 jobs in the Four Corners region.

The other options evaluated included closing the mine in 2022 or denying the deep lease extension. If the deep lease extension had been denied, the mine would have closed this year.