Moffat County second-leading supplier of coal in Colorado |

Moffat County second-leading supplier of coal in Colorado

Ryan Sheridan

Being number one is important, but being number two isn’t so bad, especially when it’s connected with providing a valuable resource.

To be part of the Northwest Colorado powerhouse for coal production has many economic benefits, and the strong demand for low sulfur coal means being number two is even more valuable than usual, which is where Moffat County has been and continues to be. Moffat County follows only Routt County in the amount of coal extracted per county in Colorado.

With increasing demands being made in terms of environmental and efficiency concerns, the low sulfur coal produced in Northwest Colorado is a premium product that fills many of today’s energy production requirements.

“With its high BTU content, the low sulfur coal of this area is certainly what power plants want, and the coal is also an advantage in dealing with sulfur-control requirements,” said Diana Orf, lobbyist for the Colorado Mining Association. “With the recent increased sensitivity to energy demands knowing how quickly demand can outstrip supply, more attention is paid to the role that coal plays.”

The demand for energy will be a constant one, and with the present level of technology and economy, the call for the low sulfur coal mined out of Northwest Colorado will be strong. Mines will continue to meet production records set in recent years, but exceeding them is not expected.

“We could come close to our 5.8 million peak, but we’re not on target to exceed our peak. We don’t see the buy trends that would drive that production,” said Charlene Murdock, manager of public and state government affairs for Kennecott Energy, which operates the Colowyo Coal Company in Moffat County. “We don’t anticipate a decline in demand or production, for this is a valuable and economical source of energy, but I can’t really make any predictions.”

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The demand for this area’s coal allows Colowyo to be a major employer in Moffat County and “allows us to significantly contribute to the government and county,” Murdock said.

Trapper Mine, also located in Moffat County, extracts coal only for use at the Craig Station power plant, so its mining operations aren’t able to expand as the market grows stronger, but the healthy energy market insures the Craig power plant will be running at a high capacity, keeping Trapper Mine busy.

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