Deserado Mine ships 2.5M tons of coal

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The Deserado Mine near Rangely set a production record for coal development in 2004.

Owned by Deseret Power Electric Cooperative, the Deserado Mine produced and shipped more than 2.5 million tons of coal last year. Their achievement topped the mine's previous record, set in 2002, of 2.2 million tons of coal produced and shipped.

"I'm personally very proud of the way our miners have performed in 2004. We produced at a record level, overcoming numerous obstacles along the way. You can't do that without a highly skilled and unified team," Deserado Manager Al Hillard said.

Deserado, an underground mine, employs an average of 153 miners in a 150-mile range that includes Craig and Dinosaur. Each miner produced about 16,000 tons of coal, making the mine one of the top 10 underground mines in the nation, according to the Mine Safety Health Association.

The record-setting year followed a difficult year for the mine, Deserado spokesman Keith Hill said.

"One of the situations we had, and this is true of all mining operations, we had much better mining conditions than in the previous year," Hill said.

In 2003, the mine's longwall machine hit a coal seam containing mud. Longwall mining uses a cutting head across a panel of coal, cutting the coal so it falls onto a conveyor for removal. The mine's longwall machine has been featured on the History Channel's television program "Monster Machines."

When the miners hit the poor quality seam, they had no choice but to slog through it, Hill said.

Hill also credited the team building spirit of the miners and mine management for the mine's success.

Deserado provides 95 percent of the coal for the Bonanza Power Plant in Utah.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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