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Southern Utah Fuel Co. (Sufco)

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This page was last updated on December 16, 2017.

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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.


March 1911
Southern Utah Fuel Company purchased Salina Coal Company in March 1911. (Coal Index: Eastern Utah Advocate, March 16, 1911, p. 3)

Sale To Coastal States, 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)

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, Volume 88, number 8, August 1983, page 35, "Coal in the News, Salt River Project...")

(Other Coastal States - Canyon Fuel properties in Utah)

Sale To Canyon Fuel, 1996

December 20, 1996
Southern Utah Fuel Company was merged with the existing Coastal States Energy Company. On the same day Soldier Creek Coal Company was merged with Sage Point Coal Company, then Sage Point Coal Company was merged with Skyline Coal Company, Utah Fuel Company, and Coastal Development Company, into the existing Coastal States Energy Company, which in turn was merged with Canyon Fuel Company, with Canyon Fuel Company being the surviving 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. Effective June 1, 1998, ARCO Uinta Coal Company's ownership of the Company was acquired by Arch Western Resources, LLC." (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

July 1, 1997
Arch Coal was formed by the merger of Ashland Coal, Inc., and Arch Mineral Corporation. (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

Arch Coal was formed in July 1997 through the merger of publicly traded Ashland Coal, Inc. and privately held Arch Mineral Corporation. Arch Mineral had its origins in 1969, when it was formed as a partnership between Ashland Oil and the Hunt family of Dallas, Texas; Ashland Coal was formed in 1975 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Ashland Oil. With the completion of the merger, Arch became the leading producer of low-sulfur coal in the eastern United States. (Arch Coal, Inc. web site, www.archcoal.com/aboutus/history.aspx; accessed April 16, 2016)

June 1998
Arch Coal purchased Arco Coal's 65 percent interest in Canyon Fuel Company, which operated three longwall mines in Utah (Sufco, Skyline, and Dugout Canyon). (Arch Coal, Inc. web site, www.archcoal.com/aboutus/history.aspx; accessed April 16, 2016)

June 1, 1998
Arch Coal acquired the Colorado and Utah coal operations of Atlantic Richfield Company (Arco) and simultaneously combined the acquired Arco operations and the Arch Coal's Wyoming operations with Arco's Wyoming operations in a new joint venture named Arch Western Resources, LLC. The principal operating units of Arch Western are Thunder Basin Coal Company, LLC, owned 100% by Arch Western, which operates two coal mines in the Southern Powder River Basin in Wyoming; Mountain Coal Company, LLC, owned 100% by Arch Western, which operates one coal mine in Colorado; Canyon Fuel Company, LLC, 65% owned by Arch Western and 35% by ITOCHU Coal International, Inc., a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, which operates three coal mines in Utah; and Arch of Wyoming, LLC, owned 100% by Arch Western, which operates two coal mines in the Hanna Basin of Wyoming. The purchase agreement was signed on March 22, 1998. (Arch Coal, Inc., SEC Form 10K, dated March 2, 1999)

July 15, 2004
"St. Louis (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")

Sale To Bowie, 2013

August 19, 2013
"St. Louis, Aug. 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")