DOGM discusses water discharge at Crandall Creek
The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining met in their water users meeting on Sept. 7. The meeting is held to update Emery County water users on developments involving the coal and gas industry and for water users to give updates on their activities as well.
Jay Mark Humphrey reported the spring flows have diminished but the river flows have stayed up. The flows were good for August. The water users are almost at the end of their water year. He has been up on East, Trail and Gentry mountains and springs there have diminished or dried up entirely. It was noted that spring snowmelt usually replenishes the springs. Springs are less prone to drying up if they have a longer flow path.
Cody Allred reported Electric Lake still has a lot of storage left. They are in the last stages of the irrigation season. Electric Lake is still at 79 percent capacity. More storage water is left over than last year. Base flows are steady.
Jim Smith from DOGM asked if the sprinkling system irrigation projects have resulted in water savings. Humphrey said they think they can attribute the water savings to the new irrigation systems, but they are just learning how to operate the systems and time will tell how much water is saved.
Currently 70 percent of the Huntington/Cleveland Irrigation system is complete. Between half to 2/3rds of the irrigators have converted over. Some flood irrigation is still being delivered too.
In the coal program update it was reported Rhino Energy is the new owner of the Bear Canyon Mine. They own a mine in Colorado and some mines back East. The sale was complete on Aug. 25. DOGM said they haven't received any paperwork from them yet for proof of ownership and a bond. Rhino is currently in the process of getting the mine permit changed over from the old owner to them. A question was asked as to whether or not the Hiawatha leases would accompany the sale of the mine. It's unclear what leases belong to which entity. The case is being appealed again, but the sale of the mine has gone forward and the trustee in the bankruptcy case has sold the property to Rhino Energy. No mining is currently taking place at the Bear Canyon Mine. The new owner has 30 days to get all their information to DOGM and to establish a bond. Rhino will not be using a long wall mining operation. The long wall equipment is still in the Bear Canyon Mine, but it belongs to the previous owner, CW Mining. The BLM leases are in the name of the previous owner. The judge has told the previous owner that they must accept the new owner and work with them on the transfer of leases to the new company.
Lila Canyon mine is now mining coal and has 20,000 tons on the ground which will be hauled as soon as the road is able to hold the truck traffic. Currently work is being done on the power and transformers have been installed and insulators are being put in now. It is estimated there are 12 years of coal with the current leases. There are other leases in the area which could be bid for. Sherrel Ward asked if there can be leasing for coal tracts on wilderness study areas. The BLM representative said the BLM policy is no leasing under WSAs. But, the situation brings up a lot of questions which answers aren't known at the current time. Not all the available leases in the area are under WSAs.
The first lift is on the road and three lifts will be put on, the road is bladed all the way to the mine. Utah American Energy is also in the process of moving a small conveyor from the Wildcat loadout to Lila Canyon.
At West Ridge there have been fines in the stream and they are building catch basins and working on a solution.
At the Emery Consol mine they are advancing in two sections. They have plans to open a new portal in the next couple of years. They will have 10-15 years of coal with conventional mining.
At SUFCO they have a few short panels to finish and then they expect to be in the new area for five years. They will be staying west of Quitchupah.
The Cottonwood tract leases, which sold a couple years ago to Arch Coal, will begin coal exploration on them. It is expected the exploration will last a couple of years.
At the Coal Hollow mine down South they are working on an air quality permit and their bond, then they are ready to go. They have a contract with IPA to sell their coal to them.
Ken Fleck gave an update on the long wall move at Deer Creek. They are leaving the Blind Canyon workings. If they do any more mining in that area it would be in the lower seam. The long wall is undergoing a major rebuild. They aren't currently long wall mining at this time. They expect to have the long wall back in operation by December. Fleck reported two springs MF10 and MF10.5 will be undermined next spring. Deer Creek has applied for a license to conduct exploration as they try to add to their existing reserves. Fleck reported the springs which will be undermined have had data kept on them the last 10 years and to date they haven't affected those springs. With added reserves Fleck said Deer Creek expects to have leases available out to 2017-2022 depending on the results of their exploration. They are currently mining a SITLA lease which will become a BLM lease by the second quarter of next year. The additional leases they are exploring are federal leases.
Skyline mine is mining in the Winter Quarters area.
On the North Water mitigation there was a tour in July. The US Forest Service is currently conducting an environmental assessment for the water line route. This water line will replace water that was lost when the North Water spring was undermined. The forest service will hold the permit water right on the line for stock watering in the area.
Kevin Lundmark presented a power point on the Crandall Canyon mine water discharge. The total iron concentration has been consistently elevated above 1 mg/L in the minewater since January 2008. The mine has taken steps to deal with the elevation of iron. The water coming into the mine is believed to come from the Joe's Valley fault. While the mine was in operation, water was pumped from the mine. Since the mine has not been in operation since August 2007, the mine has flooded and elevated sulfates and iron have appeared in the water. The water is being piped from the mine into settling ponds where it goes through a process to remove the minerals. The water is treated with a coagulant and then into a hot tub which pumps air into the water. A flocculent is added which the fines adhere to and settle to the bottom of the holding pond. The water discharge has been in compliance since March. The chemicals being used are safe for drinking water. The water is being tested to make sure the chemicals down stream don't exceed safe limits for the fish involved. Aluminum in the water is toxic for the fish. The iron in the water is not as toxic to the fish, but it interferes with the food the fish eat. So careful testing is being done to make sure the fish aren't being harmed by the chemicals used to treat the water.
The sludge is being cleaned out of the ponds and hauled to the Wildcat loadout where when it dries out, it dries in cakes. Since the treatment system has come on line the staining in the creek has cleaned up dramatically.
Since the water treatment at Crandall mine will be an ongoing situation, DOGM is taking steps to ensure the water cleanup and a permanent solution is addressed. They are doing monitoring, studies and have requested a bond be placed by the mining company and the reclamation plan at the mine be revised to include a long term cleanup solution for the discharge water.
Smith said the eastern mines have more of this problem than the western mines and they are in contact with the east to see how they handle their discharge water with contaminants. DOGM will look at other options too and hope to come up with a long term solution that works for DOGM and the mining company.
The next water users meeting with DOGM will be Feb. 1, 2011.