Coal Hollow Mine

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{{#badges:CoalSwarm}}Coal Hollow Mine is an operating coal mine in Kane County, Utah, approximately three miles south of the town of Alton. Alton Coal Development, LLC proposes to surface mine about 2,000,000 tons of fee coal annually for approximately three years.[1] The permit was approved by the State of Utah on November 11, 2009.[2]

Location

The satellite photo below shows the mine near Alton, Kane County, Utah.

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Proposal

The mine would operate 6 days per week, 24 hours per day. Coal would be transported from the loadout via 43-ton coal trucks. Trucks would travel from Alton to Highway 89, north to US 20, east to I-15, south on I-15 to Cedar City and from Cedar City west 10 miles to a proposed rail loadout. Approximately 190 truck trips per day, 5 days per week would be required to handle the 2,000,000 tons of annual coal production.[1]

Approval

In November 2009 the State of Utah, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, under Director John Baza, released an application approval with conditions for Alton Coal Development to mine 2,000,000 tons of coal per year for approximately three years from the Coal Hollow Mine. The state approval is separate from any applications to mine on public lands nearby, which is going through a separate federal approval process.[2]

The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining says Alton Coal will get an operating permit as soon as it posts a $6 million reclamation bond, and that the Coal Hollow Mine will exhaust the private reserves in three to five years, when the company hopes to mine adjacent federal lands.[3]

In October 2010, a Garfield County official and the city manager in Panguitch said they're among supporters of the coal mine. Garfield County Commissioner Maloy Dodds told an audience at a public hearing that he expects the Alton Coal project will "create less dust than a farmer plowing a field." Panguitch City Manager Allen Henrie says the mine would bring needed jobs to the area. Plans call for 30 pits to be dug, with each exposed pit covered and re-seeded as a new one is opened.[4]

Community Opposition

Residents of southern Utah have expressed opposition to the project due to the constant traffic (up to 153 round trips a day) and the accompanying congestion and pollution, posing a risk to local businesses and public health. In addition residents are concerned about the environmental and health effects of strip mining, including water pollution from chemically treating coal, deforestation, and risks from coal waste and coal slurry dams.[5]

The state Division of Air Quality is taking comments through Oct. 14, 2010, before issuing a decision later this year.[4]

Lax air quality regulations

According to an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, during a public hearing held in Panguitch on Oct. 6, 2010, the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) admitted it would not install air-monitoring stations at the mining site to check air quality and visibility, due to lack of funds. However, Alton Coal “volunteered” to put in two air-monitoring stations. When DAQ was asked who would be checking these stations and reporting the findings to DAQ, it admitted the coal company would be doing the monitoring. The op-ed also said particulate matter (PM10) emissions from this mine will be 100 tons a year, and the Utah Division of Air Quality is not addressing PM 2.5, a more toxic air pollutant because of its small size. Pollution and fine coal dust (PM 2.5) will be emitted from the coal trucks, but no air-quality monitoring will be done along the transportation route. According to the author, Alton Coal Development handed Gov. Gary Herbert a $10,000 campaign check shortly before a permit for this mine was authorized.[6]

BLM considers expanding Coal Hallow Mine

In November of 2011 it was announced that Bureau of Land Management reported it was considering a proposal to greatly expand the Coal Hallow Mine operation to more than 3,500 acres from a 635 acre mine. The agency released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement laying out the proposal, which quickly drew reaction from environmental and conservation groups that formed an online petition opposing the project.[7]

In July 2018 the Bureau of Land Management released an EIA and approval for leasing an additional 3,600 acres and mining an additional 30.8 tons of coal.[8] In February 2019 the Interior Department also approved an expansion of the mine.[9]

Opposition

In April 2019 a lawsuit to block the expansion was filed by the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, and WildEarth Guardians. The lawsuit claims that the expansion will exacerbate climate change impacts and create air pollution, that Bureau of Land Management staff failed to analyze the impacts of mercury pollution from burning coal, failed to consider the enormous social costs of increased carbon emissions, and failed to take a broader, more cumulative look at the climate impacts of this project as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[10]

Project Details

  • Owner: Alton Coal Development
  • Parent company: Alton Coal Development
  • Location: Alton, Utah
  • GPS coordinates: 37.415982,-112.477512
  • Mine status: Operating
  • Start year: 2010
  • Mineable reserves:30.8 million tons
  • Coal type: Fee
  • Mine size: 1,386 acres
  • Mine type: Surface
  • Production: 2 million tons per year
  • Additional proposed production: 4 million tons per year
  • Equipment: Strip Mining
  • Number of employees: 120

Project Expansion Details

  • Status: Proposed
  • Production Capacity: 4 million tons per year
  • Mine expansion size: 2,114 acres
  • Start Year: 2019
  • Source of Financing:

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Coal Hollow" Utah.gov, accessed November 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dixie Brunner,"Alton Coal leaps hurdle in getting state approval" Southern Utah News, November 11, 2009
  3. "Utah regulators approve new coal mine" AP story on Charleston Daily Mail, October 27, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Utah coal mine plan draws official support" Channel 6, Oct. 7, 2010.
  5. "FAQs" Alton Coal Mine Public Website, accessed November 2009
  6. Bobbi Bryant, "Herbert endorses Utah’s first strip coal mine" The Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 23, 2010.
  7. "BLM Considering Proposal To Expand Coal Mine Near Bryce Canyon National Park" Kurt Repanshek, Natural Parks Traveler, November 14, 2011.
  8. There could be eight times more coal mining near Bryce Canyon National Park if Trump’s BLM has its way, Salt Lake Tribune, Jul. 12, 2019
  9. Interior Department Approves Expansion Of Coal Mine Near Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks Traveler, Feb. 18, 2019
  10. Lawsuit Filed In A Bid To Halt Expansion Of Coal Mine Near Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks Traveler, Apr. 17, 2019