Over 95% of the electricity generated in Utah comes from coal. In 2005, a little over 24.5 million tons of coal was produced which represents a 12.5% increase over 2004. In FY05, Minerals Management Service (MMS) reports that the coal produced in that year had a total sales value of over $432.7 million and generated royalty revenues in excess of $27.8 million.
Coal resources occur in every BLM field office in Utah except Fillmore Field Office. However, present production is limited to the Wasatch Plateau, Book Cliffs, and Emery Coal Fields in the Price Field Office. Utah has 10 operating mines that produce coal from 77 leases covering over 98,000 acres. This includes leases and operations on National Forest Lands, which are also managed by BLM. Unlike many mines in other states, all coal mines in Utah are underground mines with minimal surface disturbance.
The Central Utah Coal Fields where coal is presently being produced have been mined for over 100 years. The coal remaining in these fields is more difficult to mine and generally exhibits lower quality than the coal that has historically been produced. Present projections suggest that the existing operations have about 15 years worth of reserves at the present rate of production. Additional leasing could extend the life of the Central Utah coal fields by 40 to 50 years depending on coal prices and other economic factors.
As the coal reserves in Central Utah are depleted, mining could expand to other coal fields in Utah. BLM is currently processing an application for a coal lease for a surface mine in the Alton Coal Field, Kanab Field Office, and interest in coal production could shift to other areas in Utah.