LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Oxbow Mining, LLC, filed a coal exploration license with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for roughly 1,287 acres in Delta County, within lands managed by the Uncompahgre Field Office.
As part of the licensing process, BLM regulations require a company to announce an invitation to the public to participate in the coal exploration process prior to beginning any exploration activities. The deadline to for a person or company to state their interest to participate is July 11, 2014.
Opening the invitation to other companies allows them to share data and costs. This is primarily done to encourage the widest dissemination of coal resource information and to encourage a more competitive coal market. All of the acreage is located on private surface lands with federal sub-surface minerals. The BLM will complete an environmental assessment to analyze the impacts of proposed exploration drilling after the notice of invitation is published and an application for an exploration license is submitted.
Drilling exploration wells is the next step a company takes to gather definitive information about the existing coal resources. After the coal exploration is completed and the data is analyzed, the company may decide to apply for a lease. At that point a separate environmental assessment will be required prior to leasing the parcel.
Coal mining has existed in the area for more than 100 years. Oxbow Mining, LLC, operates the Elk Creek coal mine, which employs between 250 and 335 miners, and generated approximately $4.1 million in royalties in 2012. Approximately 50 percent of Federal coal lease royalties goes back to the State of Colorado.
Currently, there are eight producing coal mines (six underground and two surface operations) encompassing 66,000 acres in the state. In Fiscal Year 2013, coal energy production on BLM Colorado public lands directly contributed $734 million to the economy, generating royalty revenue of $42 million, according to the Office of Natural Resource Revenue, and accounted for 5,936 direct and indirect jobs in Colorado.
Those who seek to participate in the exploration process should notify Kyle Free at 303‑239‑3774 with the BLM Colorado State Office or the applicant at Oxbow Mining Oak Mesa, LLC, P.O. Box 535, Somerset, CO 81434, within 30 days of the Federal Register Notice.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of Americas public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.