In a move that clears the way for a lease auction to be scheduled, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently issued its final record of decision (ROD) approving the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on a new coal reserve for the Buckskin mine in Wyoming.
The ROD is for the Hay Creek II coal tract located about 12 miles north of Gillette, Wyo., in Campbell County. The BLM approved Alternative 2, which is the preferred alternative of the final EIS. Under Alternative 2, the Hay Creek II Coal lease-by-application (LBA) area, as modified by the BLM, includes 1,253.27 acres, more or less, and contains an estimated 167 million tons of mineable federal coal. BLM will announce a competitive coal lease sale in the Federal Register at a later date.
In March 2006, Kiewit Mining Properties filed an application with the BLM to lease the federal coal included in a tract west of and immediately adjacent to the Buckskin mine. This is a maintenance tract for the Buckskin mine, which is operated by Buckskin Mining, a subsidiary of Kiewit.
Buckskin is in a group of low-Btu Powder River Basin mines located north of Gillette. U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that it produced 3.8 million tons in the first quarter of this year, 18.1 million tons in 2012 and 25 million tons in 2011.
The draft EIS was issued for public comment in March 2010 and the final EIS in July 2011. On two occasions during the EIS preparation, Kiewit Mining Properties modified the application. In September 2010, Kiewit notified BLM that its most recent modification no longer offered a mechanical advantage around a sand anomaly; therefore, it would be interested in a tract based on the original lease application of 1,447 acres rather than the most recent modification of 419.04 acres. BLM personnel reviewed the applications and delineated a proposed tract from within the study area that would best serve the public interest.
In September 2012 a sale tract was delineated from the preferred alternative tract such that all surface for which surface owner consent was not obtained was removed from the delineated tract. The final tract delineation contains approximately 167,001,557 tons of one contiguous block of federal coal under approximately 1,253.27 acres of Kiewit Mining Properties privately-owned surface as estimated by the BLM.