Energy Blend: Moffat County’s Deserado Mine improves safety numbers in 2018 |

Energy Blend: Moffat County’s Deserado Mine improves safety numbers in 2018

A conveyor belt and sign mark the entrance to Deserado Mine in Northwest Colorado.
Lauren Blair/staff

According to Deserado Mine spokesperson Danny Clark, the mine — operated by Blue Mountain Energy and situated about 10 miles east of the Colorado-Utah border in Rio Blanco —  held a steady rate of production in 2018 and significantly improved its safety record.

Clark said the operation relocated its underground longwall mining equipment to a new underground coal panel in September. On average, such panels take two to three years to mine before another relocation is required, he said.

He described such moves as major logistical operations that require detailed advance planning and close supervision during the exercise.

Deserado Mine has also made improvements to its coal washing process during the last two years, Clark said. Coal washing reduces the ash content of coal, improves its heating value, and removes small amounts of other substances, such as sulfur.

Meanwhile, the mine’s production has held steady.

Deserado ended last year with a total of 1.9 million tons of coal produced, an increase of 600,000 tons compared to 2016. As of September 2018, Deserado had produced 1.1 million tons of coal.

The coal is shipped by private railroad line to Deseret Power’s Bonanza Power Plant, south of Vernal, Utah.

The mine also saw a decrease in violations in 2018, compared to numbers from the year before, and as of September, the mine had logged only a single accident for the year.

Deserado has taken — and continues to take — steps to improve, particularly with regard to miner safety, Clark said, adding that overall, accidents have significantly dropped through the past few years.