The 'coal' hard facts

Gunnison County cranks up production to edge out Moffat County in tonnage

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Moffat County was the third-leading producer of coal in Colorado last year, down from second in the year 2000.

But it's not due to a drop in production, according to figures released by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

"It's not a matter of Moffat County dropping in production," said Stuart Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association. "Both Colowyo and Trapper stayed strong. Gunnison County just increased significantly."

Moffat County's production increased last year from 2000. The combined output of Colowyo Coal Company and Trapper Mining Company was 7.7 million tons of coal last year, up from 7.2 million tons in 2000.

Individually, Colowyo Coal Company produced 5.7 million tons of coal in 2001, up from 5.1 in 2000.

The Trapper surface mine saw a slight decrease in production from about 2 million tons in 2000 to about 1.9 million tons in 2001.

Gordon Peters, president of Trapper Mining Company, said he was not concerned about the decrease at Trapper.

"It was all planned," he said. "We had planned to be down a little farther than that but were able to sell more."

Peters said production is steady.

"Last year's numbers aren't that exciting to me," he said. "Everything is going real good. We're happy."

Routt County led the state, producing 9.4 million tons of coal in 2001. Gunnison County slipped by Moffat County into second place producing 7.8 million tons of coal, slightly more than the 7.7 produced in Moffat County.

"Moffat County still has the two largest surface coal mines in the state," Sanderson said.

Sanderson predicted that coal production numbers in Colorado would continue to increase.

"The thing to remember is coal is the important fuel for energy in the state," Sanderson said. "More than 80 percent of the energy produced comes from coal."

The state as a whole increased its coal production in 2001, producing 4 million more tons of coal than it did in 2000, Sanderson said.

Colorado produced 33 million tons of coal in 2001, up from 29 million in 2000.

"For the first time ever, Colorado became one of the top 10 coal producing states in the nation," he said.

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