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Release Date: 03/26/13
Contacts: Vanessa Lacayo 303-239-3681    
  Shannon Borders 970-240-5399    

BLM Issues Two Lease Modifications for West Elk Mine in Gunnison County

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Today, the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado issued two lease modifications totaling 1,721 acres for the West Elk Mine to extend mining operations up to three years and recover roughly 10.1 million tons of coal.

The coal leases are operated by the West Elk Mine on United States Forest Service and private lands. As the surface managers, the USFS completed and approved an Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision to modify the leases in August 2012, which the BLM adopted in its own decision record in December 2012. When the surface land is managed by the USFS, the BLM must obtain consent from the USFS before leasing can occur.

The West Elk Mine has been in operation since 1982 and produced about 6 million tons of coal in 2011. Currently, the mine employs 378 people, and the majority of these employees, as well as their families, live in communities in Delta County. Total direct economic benefits associated with the coal mines within the North Fork Valley exceed $60 million annually.

Gunnison County receives approximately $2 million annually in tax revenues as the result of the coal mining operations at the West Elk Mine. Delta County receives the indirect financial benefit and tax revenue from the indirect businesses that support the mine, and the tax base from the workers, and their families, that reside in the County.

Currently, there are nine producing coal mines (seven underground and two surface operations) encompassing 75,000-acres in the state.  In Fiscal Year 2012, coal energy production on BLM Colorado public lands directly contributed $918.1 million to the economy, generating royalty revenue of $57.7 million, according to the Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR), and accounted for 5,719 direct and indirect jobs in Colorado.

For more information about energy development in the Uncompahgre Field Office, visit:


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 America’s 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.

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Last updated: 03-26-2013