The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) said Aug. 4 that it will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for a Cordero Rojo Mine (CRM) mining plan modification for federal coal lease WYW174407.
The Lease by Application (LBA) application for this tract was filed with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by Cordero Mining Co. (CMC) in 2001. The lease was effective in 2008. In December 2015, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ)/Land Quality Division (LQD) received an application for an amendment to CRM Permit 237, including mining portions of WYW174407.
Cordero Rojo Mining is a unit of Cloud Peak Energy.
The CRM is located approximately 15 miles south-southeast of Gillette, Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin. The CRM 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 232.6 million tons (Mt). The project proposes to add approximately 569.1 acres and 55.77 Mt of federal coal to the approved federal mining plan. The annual production rate used to calculate the environmental impacts resulting from the proposed action will be 20 million tons per year (Mtpy), which is the estimated future annual production rate suggested by CMC and is below the maximum permitted production rate of 65 Mtpy set by a WDEQ/AQD air quality permit.
CRM started operation in 1976 and the mine will continue to operate until 2027 under the current, approved mining plan. Using the estimated 20 Mtpy production rate, the project would extend the life of the mine by approximately 2.8 years, to 2030.
The EA will update, clarify, and provide new and additional environmental information for the project. An environmental impact statement will be prepared if the EA identifies significant impacts.
The proposed expansion is not affected by the Interior Department’s pause on federal coal leasing by BLM announced in January because regulatory actions under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act are not subject to the pause.