The U.S. Office of Surface Mining said Oct. 15 that it will take comment until Nov. 14 on what should be covered in an environmental assessment that will look at the impacts of new mining area at Cloud Peak Energy‘s Spring Creek surface mine, located in the Montana end of the Powder River Basin.
The application for leasing of this tract was filed with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management by Spring Creek Coal LLC in 2007. As a result, the BLM prepared a lease modification in cooperation with the OSM and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) which was published in early 2010. BLM subsequently issued a finding of no significant impact for the lease modification and the lease was issued in 2010. MDEQ has received an application for a major permit revision, including mining portions of this lease area.
The mine uses a combination of dragline and truck shovel mining methods. The amount of remaining recoverable federal coal authorized for removal within the currently approved federal mining plan is approximately 122.4 million tons (mmt). This project proposes to add 74.5 federal surface acres, 498.11 federal coal acres and 48.1 mmt of federal coal to the approve mining plan. The average Spring Creek production rate is 18 million tons per year (mmtpy) and the maximum production rate is 30 mmtpy. This project would not change the average or maximum production rate.
Spring Creek started operation in 1980 and the mine will continue to operate until 2025, OSM noted. This particular project would extend the life of the mine by three years.