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Lila Canyon Coal Mine

This page was last updated on February 11, 2012.

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

In September 2000, the Horse Canyon mine was sold to UtahAmerican Energy Incorporated (UEI), a subsidiary of Murray Energy. As of early 2007, UEI continued to hold the Horse Canyon mine for a potential reopening of the mine.

As early as 1998, the permitting process started to begin development of the adjacent Lila Canyon Tract, located south of Horse Canyon. Under UtahAmerican Energy Incorporated ownership the permitting process has continued with hopes to begin actual mine development during late 2007 or 2008. UEI has stated that they plan on a daily capacity of 13,000 tons, delivering coal to a loadout facility served by a new spur to be built from Union Pacific's former D&RGW mainline, just three miles away.

To address environmental concerns and to preserve the scenic beauty of the Book Cliffs, UEI plans on constructing the loadout facility out in the valley, with long underground horizontal shafts reaching under the foot of the cliffs and into the coal seam. Ventilation shafts are planned to be on top of the cliffs, well away from any encroaching scenic vista.

In a request in late 2007 to delay the permitting process to allow further study of endangered organisms in the soil, an environmental group asked a federal judge to delay the development work by UtahAmerican Energy on the Lila Canyon mine. The proposed mine was described as:

The Lila Canyon mine, located on the west slope of the Book Cliffs, south of Price, is one of the last high-quality coal reserves in the state, UtahAmerican said. It is in an area identified as having potential wilderness characteristics, but is not a congressionally designated wilderness area. Like other Utah mines, the Lila Canyon coal seam reaches depths of 2,500 feet, but there would only be longwall mining done underground, not retreat mining - the type of mining done at Crandall Canyon where coal supports are cut away causing a roof to fall. The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are 27 million tons of coal that could be recovered in the mine's first phase and UtahAmerican project manager Jay Marshall said there could be up to 52 million tons recoverable in later phases. Marshall said the company wants to start clearing the land to build the surface facilities at the entrance of the mine, but it would likely be January before work could start and take at least 18 months to complete. If the surface work doesn't begin before February, restrictions to protect eagles, antelope and bighorn sheep habitat would push the start back to July. Ray Petersen, public lands director for Emery County, said in an affidavit that the mine would help the "desperate economic situation in Emery County." Lila would employ 220 miners when it is fully operational, although just a few dozen would do the preparatory work. The company would pay about 9 percent in royalties on the mined coal, half of which would go to state, with 40 percent of that going to Emery County. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 16, 2007)

June 2010
"Miners entered the coal seam in June 2010, producing 65,300 t (72,000 st) for the year" (Utah Coal Report 2010)

December 9, 2011
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the final environmental assessment report for UtahAmerican Energy's Lila Canyon mine. Longwall mining operations are planned to start in fall 2014.

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