West Elk Mine Mining Plan Modification
About the Project - Adoption
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Western Region Office, prepared a Record of Decision (ROD) for the adoption of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) for Federal Coal Lease Modifications COC-1362 and COC-67232 (including on-lease exploration plan) for the West Elk Mine mining plan modification. In accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (MLA), The DOI Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) must approve the Project before any mining and reclamation can occur on lands containing leased federal coal.
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) participated as a cooperating agency on the USFS SFEIS at the West Elk Mine located in Gunnison County, CO. The West Elk Mine is owned and operated by Ark Land LLC and Mountain Coal Company (MCC). OSMRE has reviewed the mine plan submitted to Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (CDRMS) and has concluded that the action is substantially similar to that analyzed in the SFEIS, all comments submitted by OSMRE on the SFEIS were addressed, and the environmental analysis completed in the SFEIS is adequate.
It is OSMRE’s decision to adopt the USFS SFEIS (2017), as allowed under 40 CFR § 1506.3. Consistent with the USFS decision, OSMRE is selecting Alternative 3, as described in the SFEIS (Section 2.2.3), based on the agencies consideration of: the purpose and need for the action; the issues; current policies and regulations; the analysis of alternatives contained in the SFEIS; public comments received and other information in the project record. Consistent with the USFS decision OSMRE would select Alternative 3. Alternative 3 as analyzed in the SFEIS would modify existing federal coal leases COC-1362 and COC- 67232 by adding 800 and 920 additional acres (respectively). The leases would be mined using underground longwall mining techniques producing approximately 4.5 million tons per year and continuing mining operations by approximately 3 years.
OSMRE will prepare and submit to the ASLM a mining plan decision document recommending approval, disapproval, or conditional approval of the mining plan. The ASLM will approve, disapprove, or conditionally approve the mining plan approval document within the mining plan decision document, as required under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.