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Southern Utah Fuel Co. (Sufco)

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This page was last updated on January 23, 2019.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

Overview

Southern Utah Fuel Company, Sufco, has never been a railroad mine. Its coal is trucked to the railroad loadout at Sharp, 78 miles north and west, near Levan, Utah. A railroad has been proposed from Salina to Sharp, but economic conditions continue to delay its construction.

In September 2013, a 8.3 mile paved road was completed in Quitchupah Creek Canyon, allowing Sufco coal to be trucked eastward to customers in Castle Valley, including Rocky Mountain Power's power plants at Hunter, 37 miles, and Huntington, 56 miles.

The following history of Sufco comes from the Garfield County News, November 26, 1981:

The company was born in 1941 when Vernal J. Mortensen, a partner in Western Creamery in Monroe, Sevier County, found himself with a small amount of cash on hand when the Creamery was sold to Pet Milk Co. He met an old friend, a miner and prospector, who talked about some coal property in Convulsion Canyon located northeast of Salina.

Two Salt Lakers, named Thomas and Lund, already had begun development of the coal seam, with the anticipation of shipping the coal on the railroad. The plan was that the Denver and Rio Grande would build a main line from Denver to Los Angeles across the Sevier-Emery summit and through Salina. However, the railroad changed its mind and instead built the main line through Carbon County, to take advantage of the coal mining and shipping there, and on into Provo and Los Angeles. At that point the two Salt Lake developers abandoned the project. Mr. Mortensen recalls that previous work revealed a 13-foot coal seam, free from bone streaks and of a good marketable quality. Mr. Mortensen and three partners incorporated in 1941 and took on, what was then, a formidable task. His partners were Ren Hansen, Gus Hansen and Jack Robinson. Their first purchase was a used Caterpillar tractor and they started to build a road. That road had to be an 11-mile stretch over very rough terrain, requiring several month's of work. The task was finally complete and the road was made passable for small bob-tailed trucks.

The first coal was mined with a used Goodman short-wall cutting machine. The crews hand-loaded the coal for the first six years. By 1948, they had increased production to almost 30,000 tons a year and were selling coal from the Salina tipple instead of at the mine.

By 1973, the SUFCo Mine was producing about 340,000 tons of coal a year. In 1973 the Mortensen family and partners sold the mine to Coastal States Gas Corporation, a Houston energy firm. With growth and expansion continuing, the SUFCo Mine now produces 2.3 million tons a year.

To handle the volume, Coastal last year [1980] built a stockpiling and coal loading facility at Levan to handle 100-car unit trains.

The following comes from United States Department Of Labor, Mine Safety And Health Administration, 2004:

The SUFCO Mine is an underground bituminous coal mine located approximately 30 miles northeast of Salina, Sevier County, Utah. The mine was originally opened in 1941 and was known as the Convulsion Canyon Mine. In 1974, the mine was purchased by Coastal States Energy Company, and a subsidiary, Southern Utah Fuel Company, was created to operate the mine. In 1997, ARCO Uinta Coal Company (ARCO) purchased 65 percent ownership of the property, and Itochu Coal International, Inc. (Itochu) of Japan purchased the remaining 35 percent. At that time, Canyon Fuel Company, LLC (Canyon Fuel) was formed to operate the mine. In 1998, ownership again changed as Arch Western Resources, LLC purchased the 65 percent ownership from ARCO, while Itochu continued its 35 percent ownership.

The mine produced 7.13 million tons of coal in 2003 with 281 employees. Daily production was approximately 28,500 tons. The mine worked two 10-hour production shifts and one overlapping 10-hour maintenance shift per day, five days per week. The mine has one retreating longwall section and two continuous mining machine development sections. The average seam height in the Upper Hiawatha Seam, in which the mine is located, ranges from 8.5 to 13 feet.

The current longwall section is located in the 3 Left Pines East panel, approximately 12 miles from the main portals. The face is 930 feet wide. A Joy 7LS3 shearing machine is used to cut the coal and a DBT PF5/2000/1342 armored face conveyor and stageloader convey the coal to the 60-inch panel belt conveyor. Two-legged Joy 2 x 970 UST shields provide roof support for the face.

Timeline

October 21, 1910
Southern Utah Fuel Company filed its articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. (Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1910)

"Articles of incorporation of the Southern Utah Fuel company of Nephi, Juab county, were filed yesterday. The capital stock of $25,000 is divided into 500,000 shares of the par value of five cents each. Three hundred thousand shares are to be held as treasury stock, and the remaining 200,000 are paid for by taking over a group of coal claims in Juab county. The officers of the company are: William A. Starr, president and treasurer; G. T. Holliday, vice president; James R. Reid, secretary. These officers, with George W. Ivory, Alex. Jennings and Charles W. Tolley, comprise the board of directors." (Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1910)

March 10, 1911
"The Southern Utah Fuel company has purchased the entire business of the Salina Coal company and has reorganized into one corporation whose officers are: President, William Starr of Nephi; general manager and secretary, G F. Holliday of Salt Lake; directors, Charles Fuller of Nephi, Alexander Jennings of Nephi and George Ivory of Fountain Green. Within a few weeks the company expects to mine over 100 tons dally. The coal is of an excellent quality The mines are located in the Salina mountains." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 11, 1911; Eastern Utah Advocate, March 16, 1911)

July 29, 1911
"Ike Jennings of Levan and A. Eggertson of Provo have leased the two coal mines in the Salina canyon, belonging to the Southern Utah Fuel company. They will begin operating during the early part of September and put ten men to work in the lower mine and five in the upper. they will mine over 100 tons per day." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 30, 1911; press release dated July 29th)

August 10, 1911
"The Southern Utah Fuel company operated these veins last winter and produced 200 or 300 tons of coal which was sold to people in various towns in the county." One of the coal veins was located "just east of the second railroad tunnel and 100 yards from Red Aulm hill, and about 14 miles from Salina." The second coal vein was located "in a side canyon north of Saw Tooth and 18 miles from Salina." (Richfield Reaper, August 10, 1911)

May 5, 1927
Southern Utah Fuel company was shown among the companies and individual of Sevier county that were delinquent and subject to sale at public auction. (Richfield Reaper, May 5, 1927)

May 20, 1937
Southern Utah Fuel company was shown among the companies and individuals of Sevier county that were delinquent and subject to sale at public auction, as a continuing holdover from the Tax Year of 1932. (Richfield Reaper, May 20, 1937)

1941
Southern Utah Fuel company was purchased by Vernal J. Mortensen and three partners, and began coal production. (Garfield County News, November 26, 1981)

Coastal States Energy, 1973

"From 1946 to 1967, annual output averaged 45,000 tons, increasing to 70,000 tons in 1967, and gradually to 340,000 tons per year by 1973. When Coastal States purchased the mine in December 1973 they immediately began increasing production to the present 1.5 million tons per year." (Coal Age magazine, December 1977, page 68)

1973
In a move to diversify its energy holdings beyond natural gas, Coastal States Gas Company purchased the Southern Utah Fuel Company. (Wikipedia, Coastal Corporation)

December 21, 1973
"A Texas-based energy company has purchased Southern Utah Fuel Co.'s Salina Canyon coal mine and has announced plans to double the output of the Sevier County operation." (Provo Daily Herald, December 21, 1973)

The coal loading site at Sharp (mile post P700.6) was reinstated in 1975-1976, after the Sufco coal mine in Salina canyon was purchased by Coastal States Energy Company in 1973. The coal from the Sufco mine is trucked 78 miles to the Sharp loadout of the Union Pacific Provo Subdivision (Sharp Subdivision after 1998).

February 1976
Construction of the coal loadout at Sharp was started in February 1976, and was completed at a reported cost of $5 million. The initial loading process used just a front-end loader, which was housed in a small building on-site. (Provo Daily Herald, February 29, 1976; The Daily Spectrum, St. George, May 3, 1981)

October 1977
"Coastal States Energy Co. of Houston, Tex., has signed a five-year agreement with Salt River Project to supply up to 530,000 tpy of coal valued at approximately $35 million. The coal will go to the new Coronado Generating Station under construction near St. Johns, Ariz., from the Coastal States' Southern Utah Fuel Co. mine near Salina, Utah. Deliveries are scheduled for 1980. Coastal States Energy also announced a four-year agreement with Kennecott Copper Corp. for 1,550,000 tons of coal from the Utah mine. The coal, worth about $20 million, will be shipped to Kennecott's power facility at Magna, Utah." (Coal Age, October 1977, page 47)

July 1981
"Coastal States Energy Company, subsidiary of Coastal States Gas Corporation, announced signing of a 22-year agreement with the Sierra Pacific Power Company of Reno, Nevada to supply 17.5 million tons of low-sulfur coal to Sierra Pacifiic's Valmy, Nevada electric generating plant. The coal is to come from Coastal State's Southern Utah Fuel Company mine near Salina. Railroad deliveries of coal are scheduled to start in July 1981." (Utah Mineral Industry Activity Review 1978, published by Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, Circular 59, July 1979, page 13)

(Sierra Pacific's Valmy Unit No. 1 went on line in October 1981.)

August 1983
Coastal States Energy Company's coal contract with the Salt River Project's Coronado Generating Station at St. John, Arizona expired on December 31, 1984. Coastal had been furnishing 500,000 tons per year from its Sufco No. 1 mine near Salina, Utah, 600 miles north of St. John. The new contract was awarded to Pittsburg & Midway Mining Company's (P&M) McKinley Mine near Gallup, New Mexico, just 94 miles from St. John. P&M was presently furnishing 1 million tons per year, half of the generating station's requirements. (Coal Age magazine, August 1983, page 35)

1985
The Sufco coal mine was the first in Utah to use a longwall machine. (Coal People magazine, June 2003)

(Other Coastal States - Canyon Fuel properties in Utah)

Canyon Fuel and Arco Coal, 1996

December 20, 1996
Canyon Fuel Company, a new company owned jointly by Arco Coal (65%) and Itochu of Japan (35%), was the result of the merger of Coastal States Energy Company with four coal mining companies in Utah, including Soldier Creek Coal Company; Sage Point Coal Company; Southern Utah Fuel Company; Skyline Coal Company; along with Coastal Development Company, and Utah Fuel Company. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Permit C0070039; Dugout Canyon Mine)

"Effective December 20, 1996, Canyon Fuel Company, LLC was formed as a joint venture between ARCO Uinta Coal Company (65% ownership) and ITOCHU Coal International Inc. (35% ownership) for the purpose of acquiring certain Utah coal operations and an approximate 9% interest in Los Angeles Export Terminal, Inc. from Coastal Coal, Inc. and The Coastal Corporation." (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

(Read more about the Soldier Creek mine)

(Read more about the Skyline mine)

Canyon Fuel and Arch Coal, 1998

March 23, 1998
Atlantic Richfield announced that it would sell its coal mining operations in Utah and Colorado to Arch Coal, Inc., for a reported $1.14 billion, making Arch the second largest coal mine operator in the nation, selling 110 million tons of coal per year, about 10 percent of the nation's total. (Deseret News, March 23, 1998)

 

July 15, 2004
"Arch Coal, Inc. announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Itochu Corporation's 35% interest in Canyon Fuel Company, LLC for a contract price of $112 million. With the completion of this transaction, Canyon Fuel will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Arch Coal." "Canyon Fuel owns and operates two longwall mines in Utah - Sufco in Sevier County and Dugout Canyon in Carbon County. In addition, the company owns the currently idle Skyline mine, which also is located in Carbon County. In total, Canyon Fuel controls approximately 161 million tons of high-quality, low-sulfur coal reserves in Utah. In 2003, Canyon Fuel produced approximately 13.0 million tons of coal." (Arch Coal, Inc., press release dated July 15, 2004, "today")

Bowie, 2013

August 16, 2013
Bowie Resource Holdings completed its purchase of 100 percent interest of Canyon Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Arch Coal Company. The purchase included the Soldier Canyon mine, along with the Dugout Canyon mine, the Banning loadout, the Sufco mine, and the Gordon Creek mines (previously owned by Mountain Coal Company). The purchase agreement was first signed on June 27, 2013.

August 19, 2013
"Arch Coal, Inc. today announced that it has completed the sale of its subsidiary, Canyon Fuel Company, LLC to Bowie Resources, LLC for $423 million in cash. The sale includes the Sufco and Skyline longwall mines, the Dugout Canyon continuous miner operation and approximately 105 million tons of bituminous coal reserves, all located in Utah." (Arch Coal, Inc., press release dated August 19, 2013, "today")

September 3, 2013
The first four coal-hauling trucks made the first trips down the newly completed Quitchupah Creek Road. The new road shortens the distance between the Sufco coal mine and the three coal-fired power plants in Carbon and Emery counties that are three of Sufco's largest coal customers. (Richfield Reaper, September 4, 2013)

Wolverine Fuels, 2018

October 2018
The following comes from the November 8, 2018 issue of the Sanpete Messenger newspaper:

Bowie appointed a new chief executive officer, and last month it announced it would change its name to Wolverine Fuels, LLC and move its headquarters from Grand Junction, Colo. to to Sandy.

Newly appointed Wolverine Fuels CEO James Grech said, "This move will allow the executive team to be closer to our mines, our workforce and our customers."

In regards to the name and location, Grech said, "In conjunction with the recent management changes and recapitalization of the company, we wanted to offer our employees a fresh start and new identity with the name change. Our workforce is tough and resilient, very much like a wolverine, so we think our new namesake will resonate very well with our employees and the communities in which we operate."

More Information

Sufco in 2003 -- Text of an online article at MiningTechnology.com, July 25, 2003

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