Peabody: Timing for development of Twentymile, Sage Creek coal mines 'will continue to be evaluated'

— In its most recent quarterly report, Peabody Energy stressed “cost containment and tight capital discipline.”

“Capital spending continues to be tightly managed, and Peabody has reduced 2013 capital targets by $100 million to $350 (million) to $450 million," the report states.

“Timing for development of the Twentymile Sage Creek portal will continue to be evaluated as markets strengthen, and we’ll share decisions as they are made,” Beth Sutton, vice president of communications and community relations for Peabody Energy, wrote in an email Friday when asked about the future of the mine.

Peabody Energy, the parent company of Twentymile Coal Co., is the largest private-sector coal producer in the world and recently invested $200 million in the new Sage Creek mine portal. The Sage Creek reserve is estimated to hold 110 million tons of coal, and as recently as one year ago, full-scale production was scheduled to begin in 2015.

Twentymile Coal Co. — which operates the Twentymile Mine that produced 7.75 million tons of coal in 2011 — is the second-largest employer and the largest property tax contributor in Routt County.

Altogether, Twentymile Mine employs about 500 people. Another 100 or so are contracted workers. (Yampa Valley Medical Center is Routt County’s largest employer, and Steamboat Ski Area comes in third.)

The mine sits on 40 square miles of property with an assessed value of $166.5 million, according to Routt County Assessor Gary Peterson, who previously said the company will pay property taxes of nearly $2.87 million this year. The county’s share of tax revenue the mine paid in 2012 was about $587,740.

According to Peabody, Twentymile’s total direct economic contribution annually is about $200 million and comes from wages and benefits, taxes, state and federal royalty payments, capital investments and vendor contracts. For every one of those dollars spent, three additional dollars of indirect economic value are created for a total of $790 million in economic benefit, according to Peabody.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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