Amax, Cyprus, RAG American Mining Companies

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This page was last updated on February 4, 2019.

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Amax Coal, then Cyprus Amax, then RAG American operated the coal mine at Castle Gate, Utah. The succession of the various Castle Gate coal mines was:

(Read more about the Castle Gate and Willow Creek mines)

(Read more about the Star Point mine)

Amax Coal

Amax, or various forms of the company, operated the Castle Gate mine, 1986 to 1999.

Amax Coal bought the Castle Gate mines in 1986, from Price River Coal, a subsidiary of American Electric Power.

June 28, 1988
"AMAX CREATES SUBSIDIARY TO MANAGE COAL INTERESTS -- Officials of AMAX Inc., which has mining operations in Utah, Wyoming and the Midwest, have created a new wholly owned subsidiary, Amax Coal Industries, that will be responsible for managing the company's coal and coal-related business interests. The AMAX subsidiaries that will come under the Amax Coal Industries umbrella are Amax Coal Co., Amax Coal Sales Co., Castle Gate Coal Co., Beech Coal Co., Meadowlark Inc., Ayrshire Land Co. and Ayrshire Collieries Corp. AMAX is the third largest coal producer in the United States, producing 38.6 million tons for steam generation in 1987." (Deseret News, June 28, 1988)

March 22, 1989
"PRODUCTION HALTED AT MINE NEAR HELPER -- UPI -- Castle Gate Coal Co., a subsidiary of AMAX Coal Industries, has indefinitely suspended production at the Castle Gate Mine near Helper, Utah, due to geologic problems, spokesman Jeffrey Weber says. Mining operations were halted March 22 after the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a citation for hazardous coal and rock bursts, Weber said. Thomas Blangiardo, president of Castle Gate, said the mine has experienced unusual geologic conditions for the past several months. 'These bursts currently present an uncontrollable and unstable mining environment for our employees,' Blangiardo said. 'We have evaluated and attempted various methods for destressing the coal to overcome this problem and have retained outside consultants to assist us in this process. However, to date, we have been unable to satisfactorily resolve this situation to the point where we can safely resume operations,' he said. 'We plan to continue evaluating geologic conditions and mining techniques in the hope of resuming mining operations at Castle Gate in the future.' Although coal production has been suspended, Blangiardo said the company will resume certain work, effective Monday, involving coal preparation, maintenance and other related activities. But after June 5, only about 17 of the mine's employees will remain at the property, while 156 hourly and 41 salaried workers will be indefinitely laid off, Swenson said. Castle Gate began operating the mine in 1986 and produced 544,000 tons of coal in 1988, he said." (Deseret News, April 9, 1989; April 13, 1989)

August 23, 1991
The following comes from the August 23, 1991 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:

CASTLE GATE - AMAX Coal Industries is closing mine portals and other access points at its Castle Gate Coal Co. mine, idled two years ago. The company is taking the action to prevent accidents from unauthorized entry, spokesman Kevin Feeney said.

The mine will retain its operating status of "idle," allowing management to take a "hard look" at reopening if it could sell coal competitively, he said.

That likely will involve correcting the underground geological problems that led to the mine's closure or making a large expenditure to develop other coal reserves. At today's prices, such corrective measures would make the coal non-competitive.

The 1989 idling of Castle Gate Coal put 156 hourly and 41 salaried employees out of work.

Castle Gate Coal is maintaining its state mining permit in "inactive status," according to Lowell Braxton, associate director of mining for the Utah Division of Oil Gas & Mining. That means the mine doesn't have to remain active, but it must continue to meet state and federal environmental regulations as if it were operating, he said. "It's not unusual for companies like Castle Gate Coal to be in inactive status with the permit for a number of years as they evaluate their future," said Mr. Braxton. "But we still inspect the companies' mines on a monthly basis, and if they aren't complying with state and federal environmental regulations, we take action."

AMAX "indefinitely suspended" mining at Castle Gate Coal because it couldn't stop the unpredictable explosion of coal and rock at the face of its Hardscrabble Canyon mine, just north of Helper, Carbon County. Four months earlier, the federal Mine Safety & Health Administration had cited the company for hazardous coal and rock bursts. AMAX retained outside consultants to evaluate and "de-stress" the coal. But the company decided to idle the operation because the mine was unsafe.

In 1987, the last full year it operated, Castle Gate Coal produced 529,000 tons. That compares with 544,000 tons in 1988. AMAX originally projected Castle Gate Coal would produce 1.5 million tons a year. But that was before the geological problems made it impossible for mining to continue.

Cyprus Amax Mineral Co., 1993

Cyprus Amax Minerals company was the result of the 1993 merger of Cyprus Minerals and Amax Coal. Cyprus Minerals owned the Plateau (former Wattis) Star Point mine. Amax Coal owned the Castle Gate (former Price River Coal) mine.

Cyprus Plateau Mining Corporation was a subsidiary of Cyprus Minerals Company, and later Cyprus Amax Minerals Company after the 1993 merger of Cyprus Minerals and Amax Coal.

November 13, 1993
Cyprus Minerals and Amax Coal merged in 1993. "Shareholders of the Cyprus Minerals Company and of Amax Inc. voted yesterday to approve the companies' proposed merger. The merger creates the biggest United States-based mining company and the nation's second-largest producer of coal and copper. The new company, with assets of more than $5 billion, will also have significant holdings in oil and gas, gold and lithium. The two companies had combined 1992 revenue of $2.8 billion. The new concern is named the Cyprus Amax Minerals Company. A new co-chairman, Milton Ward, said a primary goal of the merger was to cut costs. He said the merger would save at least $120 million a year in general and administrative expenses. The companies hope to complete the merger on Monday (November 15, 1993). The merger involves the exchange of a half share of Cyprus for each Amax share." (New York Times, November 13, 1993)

"On November 15, 1993, AMAX Inc. (Amax) merged with and into Cyprus Minerals Company (Cyprus) to create one of the world's largest natural resource companies. Cyprus Amax is a diversified mining company engaged, directly or through its subsidiaries and affiliates, in the exploration for and extraction, processing, and marketing of mineral resources. Cyprus Amax operates in three principal industry segments: Coal; Copper; and Other (which includes lithium, gas, iron ore, gold, and exploration). Cyprus Amax is among the world's largest producers of copper, molybdenum, and lithium, and is one of the nation's largest coal producers. Cyprus Amax also produces gas, gold and iron ore. Cyprus Amax was incorporated in Delaware in 1969 and operates primarily in the United States. As of December 31, 1993, Cyprus Amax employed approximately 10,750 employees. Its principal office is located in Englewood, Colorado." (Cyprus Amax Mineral Company, SEC Form 10-K, 1993)

"The Utah business unit consists of the Plateau and Orchard Valley mines. The Plateau operation, located near Price, Utah, mines underground reserves utilizing a longwall mining system. Plateau owns its production equipment, including a preparation plant, but leases coal reserves, mainly from the federal government. Plateau sells raw and processed coal, plus a blended product. Plateau's coal is transported from the mine by rail primarily to utility customers in the West and to Pacific Rim markets through West Coast ports. Cyprus Amax operates and owns 80 percent of the Orchard Valley mine in western Colorado. The remaining 20 percent interest is owned by Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan (15 percent) and Samsung Company Ltd. of Korea (5 percent). This underground mine extracts coal with owned continuous mining equipment. Orchard Valley's coal is transported from the mine by rail to utility customers in the West and Midwest and also is exported to Pacific Rim countries." (Cyprus Amax Mineral Company, SEC Form 10-K, 1993)

"On September 30, 1997, Cyprus Amax sold a 15 percent interest in its wholly-owned subsidiary, Cyprus Plateau Mining Corporation, to Mitsubishi Corporation for cash proceeds of $29 million. Cyprus Plateau operates the new Willow Creek and the existing Star Point mines in Utah. The Willow Creek mine will replace the existing Star Point mine, which is phasing out its mine life." (Cyprus Amax Mineral Company, SEC Form 10-K, 1998)

RAG American Coal Co., 1999

(1999 to 2004)

RAG American operated the Willow Creek (Castle Gate) mine and the Star Point (Wattis) mine from 1999 until both were closed in 2000.

RAG = Ruhrkohle AG of Germany. (AG is an abbreviation for Aktiengesellschaft, the German translation for a corporation owned by its shareholders and traded on a stock market.

(This company, RAG American Coal of Germany, should not be confused with Rheinbraun AG, the German company that owned Consol Energy, which in-turn owned the Emery Deep Mine, and the Star Point mine at Wattis.)

(Read more about Rheinbraun AG and the Emery Deep Mine)

May 12, 1999
RAG International Mining GmbH purchased the coal assets and interests of Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, Amax Energy Inc., and Cyprus Amax Coal Company. This included the closed Wattis mine, and the Willow Creek mine of Cyprus Plateau Mining Company. (Documents on file with Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)

June 18, 1999
RAG American Coal Company was organized in Delaware. RAG American Coal Company was a subsidiary of RAG AG, which was formed in 1968 as Ruhrkohle AG. (International Directory of Company Histories, St. James Press, 2001.)

June 30, 1999
RAG American bought Cyprus Amax. At that time its parent company RAG International became the second largest coal producer in the world. ( web site)

RAG American Coal company name timeline:

June 30, 1999
Cyprus Plateau Mining Corporation changed its name to Plateau Mining Corporation.

The sale of Cyprus Amax to RAG was reported to have a value of $1.1 billion. Also reported was that the sale was actually a merger of Cyprus Amax and RAG American, with the latter being the name of the surviving company. At the time of the merger, Cyprus Amax had coal operations in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Illinois. RAG American Coal was a subsidiary of RAG International, one of six divisions of RAG AG of Essen, Germany, with 104,000 employees and sales totaling $15 billion. (Observer-Reporter, Greene County, Pennsylvania, July 29, 1999)

December 2, 1999
Phelps Dodge Corporation completed its acquisition of the remaining non-coal assets of Cyprus Amax Minerals Company on December 2, 1999. On December 14, 1999, the New York Stock Exchange filed a notification Securities and Exchange Commission of its intention to delist and deregister Cyprus Amax Minerals Company on December 29, 1999. (Cyprus Amax Mineral Company, SEC Form S-3, June 9, 2000) (In March 2007 Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. completed its purchase of Phelps Dodge Corporation, creating the world's largest publicly traded copper company. -- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold news release dated March 19, 2007)

May 17, 2000
RAG American Coal announced that it would close the Cyprus Amax office in Denver.

The longtime Denver presence of mining giant Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. ended Tuesday (May 16, 2000) as RAG American Coal Holding Co. said it will move the former Cyprus Amax coal headquarters to Maryland. RAG, which purchased the coal holdings last year for $1.1 billion, will move the Arapahoe County headquarters to suburban Baltimore, along with 60 executives. The other part of the Cyprus Amax headquarters - copper and molybdenum - left Denver late last year when the firm was acquired by Phoenix-based copper giant Phelps Dodge for $3.28 billion.

The business sales and headquarters relocations leave Denver with only memories of a rich mining heritage that began in 1916 when a Denver-based employee of American Metal Co. - later to be known as Amax - began checking out rumors of a big molybdenum discovery on top of Fremont Pass near Leadville. The claim turned into the Climax mine, once the world's largest moly producer until low prices forced its closure in the 1980s. Cyprus Minerals was formed when Amoco spun off its minerals holdings in 1985, and the firm later merged with Amax.

At its peak in the late 1980s and early '90s, Cyprus Amax employed about 400 at its Denver-area headquarters. Tuesday's announcement that RAG will move the coal headquarters to Maryland will leave Denver with an RAG regional office staffed by 20 employees at the Inverness business park. RAG American Coal is the domestic unit of RAG Coal International, Germany's largest coal producer and one of the biggest in the world.

RAG operates the Twentymile coal mine near Steamboat Springs, Colorado's largest, and 16 other coal mines throughout the U.S., including Utah and Wyoming. RAG President and CEO James F. Roberts said the headquarters move was made for better access to Eastern Seaboard customers and transportation centers, and to place it closer to its corporate parent in Essen, Germany. (Denver Post, May 17, 2000)

Mitsubishi Corporation owned 15 percent of the Willow Creek mine at the time of the fire in the mine, the mine's closure, and subsequent $83 million insurance settlement in 2001 for property damage and business interruption.

August 1, 2000
A fire and explosion at the Willow Creek coal mine killed two miners. The mine has remained closed since that incident due to continued danger from pockets of methane gas, and vaporized crude oil. Operated by Cyprus Plateau Mining Corp., a subsidiary of RAG American Coal, Willow Creek produced about 5 million tons of coal annually, much of which went to the Intermountain Power Project near Delta.

RAG AG was one of the world's leading hard coal producers and Germany's number one coal producer. Based in Germany, the company consisted of an international group of more than 450 companies active in mining, coal trading, engineering, power generation, and chemicals, and had over 220 subsidiaries around the world. (International Directory of Company Histories, St. James Press, 2001.)

August 5, 2004
RAG American Coal was purchased by Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc. The properties purchased included the closed Willow Creek mine, along with the closed Star Point mine. (Casper Star Tribune, August 5, 2004, "today")

Following is a corporate succession for RAG American Coal Company, which is now known as Alpha American Coal Holding, LLC, with Plateau Mining Company as a non-operating subsidiary.

March 1, 2004
RAG American Coal Company was changed to RAG American Coal Company, LLC.

July 30, 2004
The stock of RAG American Coal Holding, Inc., parent company to RAG American Coal Company, was sold to Foundation Coal Corporation. Foundation Coal Corp. is a private equity consortium made up of First Reserve Corp., The Blackstone Group and American Metals and Coal International. Also in 2004, the parent company, RAG Coal International sold all of its other U.S. coal mines to Peabody Energy.

"The Management Members are senior managers of RAG American Coal Holding, Inc., the operating company of RAG's North American Operations. These senior managers continued as senior managers of Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc."

July 30, 2004
RAG American Coal Company, LLC changed its name to Foundation American Coal Company, LLC.

August 9, 2004
RAG American Coal Holding, Inc. changed its name to Foundation American Coal Holding, Inc.

August 19, 2005
Foundation American Coal Holding, Inc. was changed to Foundation American Coal Holding, LLC.

July 31, 2009
Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc., merged with Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., and the surviving entity changed its name to Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.

July 31, 2009
Foundation American Coal Company, LLC changed its name to Alpha American Coal Company, LLC.

July 31, 2009
Foundation American Coal Holding, LLC changed its name to Alpha American Coal Holding, LLC.

Following these changes in 2004-2009, the current ownership structure of (non-operating) Plateau Mining Corporation is as follows:

Plateau Mining Corporation is a 100 percent subsidiary of Alpha American Coal Company, LLC;
which in turn is a 100 percent subsidiary of Alpha American Coal Holding, LLC;
which in turn is a 100 percent subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., which is a publicly traded company.

(Read the Wikipedia article about Alpha Natural Resources)

July 13, 2016
Plateau Mining Corporation changed its name to Plateau Mining LLC.

The return of the Plateau Mining name in 1999 returned the company to its roots in 1964 when the original Plateau Mining company was formed to continue mining at the Wattis mine. As of 2018, the company's coal mining interests in Utah are managed by the newly formed Plateau Mining LLC.