The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) on June 17 approved a revision to the Coyote Creek mining permit allowing them the company add a little more than 352 acres to the existing permit area in Mercer County.
The additional acres will be used for a coal haul road that extends from the existing permit area to the Coyote Power Station and for coal handling facilities.
“This permit for the Coyote Creek Mine, along with the approval of Mercer County and land acquisition from landowners, opens the next chapter in lignite mining in western North Dakota,” said Commissioner Randy Christmann in a June 17 statement. “For consumers it means the long-term continuation of dependable and affordable power from the Coyote Power Plant.”
The commission received requests for an informal conference on this application regarding concerns about air quality and dust emissions from the proposed haul road and coal handling facilities. The Hearing Officer ruled that the air quality issues raised during the informal conference are outside of the jurisdiction of the commission and that the application for the permit revision satisfies all permit revision standards under the reclamation laws and rules.
No coal mining is proposed in the revision area and the planned haul road and other support facilities will be reclaimed when mining is completed. Coal removal and haul road use is expected to continue until 2040 with coal production projected to be 1.7 million tons in 2016 and 2.5 million tons per year going forward.
North American Coal‘s Coyote Creek Mining Co. received its mining permit from the commission in October 2014. This is the first major new mine permitted in North Dakota since the late 1970s. The mine is scheduled to begin delivering coal to the Coyote Power Station operated by Otter Tail Power in May 2016. The old coal contract for the plant, which is a minemouth operation, expires in May 2016. In October 2012, the Coyote owners entered into a lignite sales agreement with Coyote Creek Mining to deliver the annual coal supply needs of the Coyote Station. This will replace a Westmoreland Coal mine that has served the Coyote plant for many years.