Ray DuBois, Trapper Mining Co. president and general manager, recently resigned from the coal mine he has called home for 14 years.
His last day is June 30.
DuBois, 53, announced his decision June 4 in a letter sent to Trapper’s board of directors, and later to his management staff.
He does not know how Trapper will seek to replace him. He said the mine could hire an interim president during a broad, permanent candidate search, or the mine may promote from within.
DuBois is leaving Trapper to become the vice president and general manager at Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co., in Teller County near Colorado Springs.
Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining is a surface gold mine that has been mining precious metals since 1890.
The mine produced about 250,000 troy ounces of gold in 2008, but production varies annually.
DuBois said the decision to leave Trapper Mine was because of the opportunity presented at Cripple Creek & Victor Gold.
“My entire career, after college, has been in the coal mining industry and this is just going to present new opportunities and challenges in the hard rock mining industry, particularly in gold,” he said.
DuBois said the state of the coal mining industry had nothing to do with his decision.
“It has everything to do with the fact that I feel Trapper is on a pretty good path forward,” he said. “If the place was hanging out there and struggling and really needed my direction right now, I would probably think twice, three times about leaving.”
Despite leaving the coal industry, DuBois said he will remain interested in coal’s future.
“I am going into a mine that relies heavily on low-cost electricity and I will still be an advocate for coal burning and low-cost electricity, and that is what coal offers,” he said.
But, leaving Craig and Moffat County won’t be easy, DuBois said.
“Coming here was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I recognized this was a great place to work when I interviewed. I had actually heard about it from people that I worked with down in Texas. … I had heard this was a great little town, a great area of the state, and just a terrific mine with high-performing people both on the management side and the workforce side.”
In his tenure at Trapper, that aspect of the mine hasn’t changed, DuBois said.
“The reason this mine has survived is because of the people,” he said. “We are not blessed with the best mining conditions, but we are blessed with some of the best coal miners in the world.”
Trapper Mine hired DuBois in 1996 as a senior project manager. He was promoted to president and general manager in 2002.
DuBois previously worked for the West Virginia-based steel company, Armco Inc., in the coal division for 14 years. He then moved to Laredo, Texas to work at Farco Mining Co. for three years before moving to Craig.
In his time at Trapper, DuBois said there were several major projects that he was proud to work on.
“I’ve played a small part in the mine’s future basically just throwing out some ideas and the people here taking them and running with them and really doing all the work to make them work,” he said.
The first project DuBois mentioned was the mine’s addition of two Caterpillar D-11R bulldozers, the largest Caterpillar makes.
The two bulldozers are currently being used as primary earthmovers rather than auxiliary pieces of equipment, DuBois said.
DuBois was also manager at the time of a landslide in October 2006, which saw 250-acres slide 400 feet in four hours.
As a result of the slide, several ground-monitoring practices were implemented. The mine now utilizes GPS units to monitor surface movement and inclinometers to monitor any underground movement.
The slide also spurred DuBois to make a transition from using primarily dragline mining at Trapper to a combination of front-end loaders and new 240-ton trucks to assist in the removal of overburden and parting. The mine will now use one dragline at a time for the next few years, he said.
Both the new bulldozers and dragline project have contributed to opening up additional coal reserves for mining, he said.
While at Trapper, DuBois has also served on several boards and associations. He was the past board chairman for the Colorado Mining Association, a member of the board of directors for the National Mining Association and a member of the board of trustees for the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, among others.
Locally, he served as the chairman for the Colorado Northwestern Community College Board of Control for five years and was on the board of directors for Yampa Valley Electric Association.
DuBois contends he has been “very community-minded” in his time with Trapper, a trait he hopes whoever fills his position also possesses.
“You have tremendous control over what can be done for the community sitting in this seat,” he said.
Over the 14 years he has worked for the mine, DuBois said he has “enjoyed practically every day.”
“There will always be a place in my heart for the people and the mine,” he said. “I really want this place to succeed.”