Hesperus-area coal mine seeks to expand underground operation

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The mine that supplies the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad with coal is seeking to expand its underground mining operations.

FARMINGTON — The owners of a coal mine outside of Hesperus, Colorado, have asked to expand underground operations by leasing nearly 2,500 acres beneath the surface in an area known as Dunn Ranch. The lease would extend the mine's operating life by 22 years.

The King II coal mine employs about 120 people and provides coal for heating homes in the Four Corners area as well as for the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a cement factory in Mexico.

GCC Energy LLC, which owns the mine, has asked to lease an area known as Dunn Ranch that is located adjacent to the current mine, a few miles southeast of Hesperus.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement are asking for public comments that will help them prepare an environmental assessment.

This environmental assessment will analyze potential impacts of mining in the Dunn Ranch area.

Dunn Ranch has a variety of surface owners including the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, Devil’s Canyon Trust, C&C Livestock, Shirard Colorado LTD Partnership and the BLM.

Coal from the King II mine near Hesperus, Colorado, keeps the the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad supplied with coal.

According to a press release from the two agencies, the lease would cover nearly 2,500 acres and would produce 7.6 million tons of coal.

The mine would produce 600,000 tons of coal each year for the first two years. Production would increase to 800,000 tons annually afterward.

Public comments will be accepted through March 11 and a draft environmental assessment will be available for review this spring.

Public comments can be emailed to coalcommenttresrios@blm.gov or mailed to Stantec, Attn: Neil Lynn King II Coal LBA & Mine Plan 3325 S Timberline Road, Ste 150,  Fort Collins, CO 80525-2903 .

More information is available at eplanning.blm.gov and wrcc.osrme.gov/initiatives/kingIICoalMine.shtm.