|Rilda Canyon will be the site for a new fan for the Deer Creek Mine.|
The Emery County Commissioners held a public hearing on June 20 to gather public comments on the Energy West Level III conditional use permit for a mine portal and fan at Rilda Canyon. Mack Huntington, the county planning and zoning official said Energy West had gone through the permitting process and planning and zoning approved the project and recommended the county grant the permit.
Doug Johnson from Energy West was on hand to give a power point presentation of the project and the plans for the Rilda Canyon site. Johnson pointed out it is critical they obtain more air for the mining sections where they are currently working. Two existing portals which were broken out of the mine late last summer are presently used as passive air intakes only.
The new fan in Rilda Canyon will blow air into the mine from the Rilda side; this essentially doubles capacity. "We are in desperate need of ventilation," said Johnson. The Rilda facility will also contain a small supply area. In spring of 2007 the company plans to pave and upgrade the road leading into the facility. Energy West has gone through a long process of environmental studies to keep the impacted area in the canyon to a minimum. The entire pad area will be paved and be underlain by an impervious liner, and no runoff water will escape from the pad. Runoff water from the pad area will be piped to a sediment pond which is below the old Leroy mine which was mined in the 40s and 50s.
This sediment pond will be well below the springs that collect water for the North Emery Water Users and the Castle Valley Special Service District. A percentage of the drinking water for the north end of the county comes from the Rilda springs.
North Emery is comfortable with Energy West's plans to protect their culinary springs. The pad will contain the fan portal and there will also be a travel entry to move dry materials into the mine. This entry will not be used for any petroleum products.
The disturbed area will be approximately three acres. An existing power line will be moved to the south side of the road. Top soil will be stripped off the disturbance area and stored to be used when reclaiming the area after the mine related activities cease. There will be suspended use of the county road at the facility. Below the facility will be a parking area and trail access for horses, cattle and hikers. The road beyond that point will be administrative use only.
The original plan for the Rilda Canyon facility has been modified many times. Right now the company is only asking for the fan and materials access. At one point a bathhouse was in the plans. The company may come back at a later time to acquire the permitting for further development, but not at the current time. "We don't want to do anything to jeopardize the springs," said Johnson. Huntington said, "How much longer can you mine without a fan?" Johnson replied without the fan they would have to curtail production as they move deeper into the mine each day. The fan needs to be in place by October to not interfere with production.
"We are on the ragged edge of having adequate air," said Johnson, "We appreciate how the county has helped move the process along."
Commissioner Ira Hatch called for the public hearing to cease and the meeting moved back into regular commission meeting where the conditional use permit was granted.
The commission also voted on the road suspension. When the mining facility is no longer needed the temporary suspension of the road will be lifted and the road reestablished. Hatch pointed out that those needing to access that area will still be able to on the new trail.
The trail will be established on the south side of the facility and the suspended road is approximately a half mile below where use is already suspended at the present time.
With the permit in hand, Energy West will move forward rapidly in getting the fan in place. Johnson said the fan had been ordered last September as it takes about a year for a fan of this type to be manufactured and shipped.