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This page was last updated on September 8, 2023.
Bronco Utah is a consolidation of subsidiary companies controlled by Bronco Energy Fund, Inc. The company's major operation is the Emery Deep Mine, but the company under name variations also controls the sites of the former U. S. Steel Columbia mine near Sunnyside, and the Hidden Valley mine south of the Emery Deep Mine.
Bronco Energy Fund
The Bronco Energy Fund was incorporated under the laws of the State of Nevada on June 19, 1997 with its principal offices and operations center in Tucson, Arizona. The company ceased all operating activities during the period from June 19, 1997 to October 20, 1999 and was considered dormant. From October 20, 1999, the company was in the development stage, and had recently commenced planned principal operations. On May 23, 2005 (with the purchase of the Columbia mine), Bronco Energy Fund became a regular public company rather than a business development company. Bronco Energy Fund stopped doing business in 2006, apparently with the resignation of Dan Baker as its president. (compiled from filings with the SEC)
Dan Baker (1949-2022)
Dan Baker was a native of Price, Utah, where he successfully completed all levels of his education, including the College of Eastern Utah. He began his business career in mining as a laborer in 1969 following an extended tour of duty with the United States Army in Vietnam. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1975 with a BS degree in mining engineering. Baker earned significant mining expertise serving as a longwall foreman, senior mining engineer, longwall superintendent and manager of underground operations while working for United States Steel Corporation, Kaiser Steel Corporation, Braztah Corporation, Utah Power and Light Company, Emery Mining Corporation and Kaiser Coal Corporation.
In 1987, he joined Interwest Mining Company as Vice President/Operations, overseeing both underground and surface mines in Utah, Wyoming, Washington and Australia for PacifiCorp.
Baker became President and Chief Executive Officer of Interwest and Vice President/Fuels for PacifiCorp in January 1998. He resigned his positions at Interwest to become Executive Vice President at Consol Energy in November 1999. At Consol Energy, he "provided overall leadership, strategic direction and management oversight of all mining operations, intent on producing quality coal at a low cost and while complying with the highest safety standards." Under Baker's leadership, Consol Energy operated 28 mines, producing over 72 million tons of coal per year.
Dan Baker was Executive Vice President-Mining, Consol Energy Inc., from November 1999 to October 2002, when he resigned to begin providing consulting services to energy companies. In 2004 Baker became an officer and manager at Foundation American Coal, and its successor company Alpha American Coal, which owned the closed Star Point mine and the closed Willow Creek mine.
In 2004 he was elected CEO and director of Bronco Energy Fund. By 2004 he had been involved in the mining industry in both management and production for more than 33 years. Most recently, he served as President of C&P Coal Company in Salt Lake City.
After resigning from the Bronco Energy Fund in 2006, Dan Baker focused on the Bronco Utah coal operations after the purchase of the Columbia mine. In September 2006, he joined Hidden Splendor Resources, America West Resource's subsidiary and operator of its Horizon coal mine. In August 2007 he was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of America West Resources, and in July 2008 was appointed as that company's CEO, a position he held until its bankruptcy in 2013. America West Resources' subsidiary Hidden Valley Resources was the operator of the Horizon mine in Gordon Creek Canyon, until operations ceased in mid 2012.
Baker was closely affiliated (2013-2016) as an officer or director of Wild West Equipment & Hauling, LLC, operator of the Wildcat coal preparation plant and loadout facility. The trucks of the Wild West company were used to transport coal from the Horizon mine to the Wildcat loadout.
In December 2015, Dan Baker and his Bronco Utah company purchased the Emery Deep Mine from Consol Energy. All of the other properties Bronco and Baker were involved with were already closed and otherwise inactive, but viewed as potentially subject to being reopened.
Dan Baker was the subject of an article in the April 3, 2017 issue of Deseret News, as the CEO and president of the Bronco Utah mine (also known as the Emery Deep Mine).
Dan R. Baker passed away on August 15, 2022 at age 72. His obituary included the following about his coal mining career: "His career was quite extensive, and he held management and executive positions with Kaiser Steel, Utah Power & Light as a Vice President, York Canyon Raton, Pacific-Power, Consol Energy, Horizon, and Bronco Energy. He later decided that he wanted to open his own mine and initiated the financing and investors needed for this operation [Bronco Utah; Emery mine] which presently employs over 80 men today. This was a feat, and he should be given kudos for it as the mining industry was coming to a close. He had the heart of a coal miner and enjoyed the challenges of mining and especially the comradery of the miners. He studied his craft in China, Japan, England, Germany, France, and India."
Columbia Mine (2005)
The following is based on the Bronco SEC Form 8-K, dated January 9, 2006.
On April 21, 2005, Bronco Coal Company (a Utah corporation), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bronco Energy Fund, Inc., organized for this purpose, agreed to purchase the Columbia Coal Mine located in Books Cliff, Carbon County, near Price, Utah consisting of approximately 5,000 acres. The mine has been inactive since 1966 and would require significant rehabilitation and the addition of capital improvements to meet current mining standards.
The sellers of the mine, PD Company LLP, executed a contract for the sale of the mine property to GLS Coal Company LLC on or about March 4, 2005.
On March 14, 2005, Bronco Coal Company entered into an agreement with GLS Coal Company whereby GLS assigned the sale contract for the Columbia mine to Bronco Coal Company. On April 19, 2005, Bronco Coal Company secured its funding and on April 21, 2005 Bronco's purchase of the Columbia mine was completed.
On September 30, 2005, Bronco took full ownership of the Columbia mine. Bronco's President and CEO is Dan Baker, who was Executive Vice President-Mining, Consol Energy Inc., from November 1999 to October 2002.
Bronco planned to implement a single longwall mining unit at the Columbia in the first quarter of 2007. The Columbia mine, which was formerly operated by US Steel, ceased coal production in 1966. There is a 9,600 foot concrete-lined tunnel and a 1,000 pound hoist which are considered to be in good condition.
Emery Deep Mine (2015)
Consol Energy continued as the owner of the Emery Deep Mine until 2016, when the mine was sold to Bronco Utah Operations LLC [Bronco Coal Resources LLC], formed in Delaware on November 16, 2015. Bronco trucked their coal to the Savage Coal Terminal. Bronco also owns the coal reserves of the closed and reclaimed Horizon mine in Gordon Creek (on the site of the old Consumers Mutual mine), and is the operator of the closed loadout at Wildcat. (Documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)
Bronco Coal Resources acquired the reserves of the Emery Deep Mine formerly owned by CONSOL in December 2015. The surface mine operated by CONSOL was idled in 1993 but restarted in 2003 before being idled again in late 2010. The mine was sold to C&P Coal Corporation (Dan Baker) which later became Bronco Coal. A new underground mine was developed on the property to extract lower sulfur coal, it was commissioned in 2017. (Evaluation of past coal purchases for Intermountain Power Agency, October 30, 2020)
Bronco Utah Operations bought the Emery mine from Consol Energy in December 2015. The Emery mine produced about 1 million short tons annually from the Ferron Sandstone 'I' bed from its opening in 2005 through 2010, when CONSOL idled the mine due to low coal demand. Bronco planned to develop new portals and underground workings in the 'I' bed, with the capability of producing up to 1.0 to 1.5 million short tons per year using the continuous miner in some sections; actual production will depend on market conditions. If permits are established, the Emery mine could produce about 200,000 short tons in 2016 and employ up to 100 miners by the end of the year. (Utah's Extractive Resource Industries 2015, page 23)
December 22, 2015
Consol Energy sold its Emery Deep Mine and Hidden Valley reserves to Bronco Coal Resources LLC on December 22, 2015. Together the assets represent about 30 million tons of reserves. Bronco's President and CEO is Dan Baker, who was Executive Vice President-Mining, Consol Energy Inc., from November 1999 to October 2002. In April 2005, Bronco bought the Columbia mine near Sunnyside. (Documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)
Dan Baker was also CEO of America West Resources, LLC, from July 2008 to 2013. America West Resources was the owner of Hidden Splendor Resources, Inc. which was the operator of the Horizon Mine in Gordon Creek Canyon. Baker was also closely affiliated (2013-2016) as an officer or director of Wild West Equipment & Hauling, LLC, operator of the Wildcat coal preparation plant and loadout facility, which also operated the trucks that transported coal from the Horizon mine to the Wildcat loadout. (Documents on file with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining)
Mining resumed again in July 2017.
Hidden Valley Mine
Bronco also owns the site of the former Hidden Valley mine. The mine is located in the West Half of Section 17, Township 23 South, Range 6 East, situated near Ivie Creek, approximately three miles south of the Browning portal of the Emery Deep mine, just north of today's Interstate 70.
The site was originally developed in 1980 to mine coal as a fuel source by Soldier Creek Coal Company to supply the cement kilns of its parent company California Portland Cement Company, but the company never applied for a permit that would allow operations. By March 1981, large portions of the site had been prepared, including the portal opening, building pads and sediment retention ponds. Any coal mined from the Hidden Valley mine in the period it was to be trucked north and loaded at the Banning loadout near Sunnyside Junction on U. S. 6.
"California Portland Cement Company's coal subsidiary, Soldier Creek Coal Company, employs 115 people at its Soldier Canyon mine 25 miles east of Price. A property in Emery County was recently acquired and California Portland is developing it for opening in 1981. It is to be known as the Hidden Valley mine."
The original coal lease for the Hidden Valley mine was from Ivie Creek Coal Company to Clifford Minerals and Peter L. Shea dated August 20, 1976. On January 12, 1978, Ivie Creek Coal Company (and its affiliates Ivie Creek Coal Associates and Ivie Creek Coal Company Shareholders' Trust), sold its holdings, rights and interest in the Hidden Valley mine to Soldier Creek Coal Company.
The Hidden Valley Coal property was to be developed by Soldier Creek Coal Company, a Utah corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of CalMat Company (California Portland Cement Company). The property is 960 acres and Soldier Creek Coal Company owned the surface rights and held the rights to the coal under a long term federal coal lease. The original permit with state and federal agencies was submitted on September 7, 1979, and approved on February 4, 1980. Soldier Creek held the property under the Hidden Valley Coal Company name. Soldier Creek notified the Utah Division of Oil Gas & Mining in March 1981 that it would not exercise its rights to develop and operate the Hidden Valley mine due to declining market conditions.
Reclamation of the site began in 1981 and was completed in 1986.
The coal lease and coal mining permit, in the name of the Hidden Valley Coal Company, were transferred to Consol Mining Company, LLC, in November 1995. The mine remained inactive.
Consol assigned the lease to Bronco Coal Operations, LLC, on December 16, 2015.