Steamboat Springs Twentymile Coal Co. is asking for permission to increase the amount of coal that can be trucked along a county road from the mine to U.S. Highway 40 in western Routt County.
Twentymile's existing special-use permit with the county is set to expire at the end of this year. In addition to trucking more coal, the mine is asking for a five-year extension to the permit.
The Routt County Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the request at 6 p.m. Aug. 1. The Routt County Board of Commissioners will take up the issue at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 27. The town of Hayden has until Monday to submit its input.
According to the application filed with the county's planning department, Twentymile helps maintain and has paid about $2.7 million for improvements to Routt County Road 27, which it uses to truck coal to U.S. 40. The mine also has spent $2.1 million to build a roundabout at C.R. 27 at the location of the mine's new Sage Creek Portal.
There are about seven homes along the truck route. Coal hauling would continue to take place at all hours except from 7 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., when school buses might be using the road.
Twentymile currently is allowed to truck 360,000 tons of coal each year, which is about 40 truckloads per day. The mine is asking for permission to truck 500,000 tons of coal each year, which is about 55 truckloads per day.
Twentymile wants to increase the amount of coal trucked because of "additional flexibility in marketing and transporting our product, given challenging economic and coal market conditions."
According to the application, Twentymile anticipates producing 7.5 million to 9 million tons of coal in each of the next five years. The company needs to truck some coal because Union Pacific railroad officials have told Twentymile that the most the railroad can haul each year is 8.2 million to 8.3 million tons.
According to Twentymile, the 500,000 tons of coal it wants to truck is a relatively small percentage of total production, but "it is an important component and factor in maintaining production levels, employment, profitability and viability for Twentymile's operations over the long-term."
According to the application, Twentymile's gross sales revenue is $325 million to $340 million. The wages and benefits for the mine's 470 employees accounted for $64.2 million of the mine's expenses in 2012. The mine also paid out $30.7 million in royalties, $10.4 million on utilities, $95.7 million on outside supplies and services and $16.5 million on taxes.
In the application, Twentymile points out that not as much coal is being trucked on C.R. 27 as there has been in the past. That is because the Hayden Station power plant now is bringing in its coal using a new rail spur, which eliminated the need to truck in about 1.8 million tons of coal to the power plant annually.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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