Peabody posts bonds to ensure Twentymile Mine reclamation |

Peabody posts bonds to ensure Twentymile Mine reclamation

Twentymile Mine operates 24 hours per day, 361 days each year about 15 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs. Coal production across Colorado was 18.7 million tons in 2015, a decrease of 18.5 percent and the lowest production amount in 23 years.
John F. Russell

— Peabody Energy has solved at least one of its problems.

The biggest mining company in the United States, which declared bankruptcy April 13, has posted bonds to ensure its Twentymile Mine in Routt County gets reclaimed in the event it were to close.

In February, the WildEarth Guardians environmental group threatened to sue Peabody saying it no longer had the finances to clean up its mines in New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado.

To reclaim its mines, Peabody had historically been allowed to self-bond. That means Peabody could use its own assets to guarantee the money was available to reclaim its mines.

Guardians claimed Peabody no longer had the assets to self-bond.

Guardians filed a complaint with the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. That prompted the federal agency to forward the complaint to the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety in the form of a 10-day notice.

On April 11, the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety informed the federal regulators that it had received corporate surety bonds from Peabody to cover the full reclamation liability for its Colorado mines.

With the problem corrected, federal regulators withdrew the 10-day notice.

“The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement commends Colorado for its actions to remedy the problems associated with self-bonding in the state,” spokesman Chris Holmes said in a statement. “State regulators quickly recognized the issues regarding Peabody’s use of self-bonds. And, as Congress envisioned when it enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Colorado then took the lead to ensure Peabody would replace those self-bonds with corporate surety bonds. This is how the law should be applied.”

Guardians’ climate and energy program director Jeremy Nichols said he was surprised the self-bonding issue was resolved.

“Thankfully, the problem is resolved in Colorado — it’s good news,” Nichols said. “Unfortunately, though, it’s not yet resolved in New Mexico and Wyoming, where Peabody still has more than $1 billion in self-bonding obligations.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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