Twentymile Mine production
2015: 4,121,191 tons
2014: 6,659,492 tons
2013: 7,235,627 tons
2012: 7,974,732 tons
2011: 7,748,909 tons
2010: 7,725,525 tons
2009: 7,827,079 tons
2008: 8,004,176 tons
2007: 8,290,894 tons
2006: 8,549,845 tons
2005: 9,369,969 tons
2004: 8,557,745 tons
2003: 8,127,386 tons
2002: 7,573,438 tons
2001: 7,709,874 tons
Source: Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety
The downward slide continued for Colorado's coal industry in 2015, highlighted by production at Routt County's Twentymile Mine, which was down 38 percent.
Statewide, production in Colorado was down 18.5 percent, with 18.7 million tons, the lowest amount of coal mined in 23 years.
In Moffat County, production at the Trapper Mine was actually up nine percent, with 2.1 million tons. At Colowyo Mine, production was down six percent at 2.3 million tons.
Colorado Mining Association President Stuart Sanderson said the drop in production is a result of lower demand, but it was not caused by natural market forces.
"What we are seeing is the direct result of government regulations that are designed to drive coal out of the energy mix," Sanderson said.
He called Colorado's 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs Act short-sighted. It included plans to convert coal-powered plants into natural gas plants.
"Moving forward, there is no question that the companies are suffering from this absurd action by the government to put hardworking men and women out of work," Sanderson said.
Peabody Energy, which owns Twentymile Mine, said the drop in production was due to a planned reduction in export shipments.
"We continue to match our production based on customer demand," the statement said.
According to Peabody, about 300 people are currently employed at Twentymile, 35 fewer employees than February 2015. The mine employed 400 in 2014.
The drop in production to 4.1 million tons concerned Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski.
"We don't want to see declines in production," she said. "It's not good for us. We'd like to see them at least at six to eight million tons per year."
A report prepared by economic developers in Northwest Colorado laid out the importance of coal to the region.
The report found that the four coal mines in the region directly employ 4.6 percent of the region’s total employees and account for 17.4 percent, or $478.6 million, of the region’s gross regional product, which is the value of the goods and services produced in the region.
There are 1,545 people directly employed by the industry, with an average annual wage of $85,481.
Coal mine property accounts for 5.6 percent of property tax revenue in Routt County and 8.6 percent in Moffat County.
Officials are hoping the production declines will level off.
"We're hoping for better days ahead, but there is no sugar coating the challenges we face," Sanderson said. "All Colorado has done is hurt itself, and all the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has done is hurt America."
Peabody Energy last week reported losses of $2 billion in 2015.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland