Production from the state’s eight Unita Basin mines was up 16 percent to 27.3 million tons in the 12 months ending in June compared to the previous 12-month period, according to SNL Energy, a financial and market data analysis firm.
For all ten mines across the state production in the first half of the year was up 14 percent to 14.5 million tons compared with the first six months of 2011, according the federal Energy Information Administration.
Colorado had seen coal production decline for seven years until a 10.4 percent increase in 2011.
The Colorado mining industry had also voice its opposition to the state’s 2010 Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which gave Xcel Energy, the state’s largest electricity utility, incentives to replace five coal-fired power plants in the Denver area with cleaner burning natural gas.
The state mining association said the switch would lead to a loss of 2.6 million tons a year in in-state sales and 500 jobs.
But some coal producers have seen opportunities for exporting coal to foreign markets and Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, last year announced a long-term supply agreement for 40 million tons of Colorado coal.
Peabody’s Foidel Creek mine in Oak Creek had a huge jump in production to 8.9 million tons in the 12 month ending in June compared with a little less than 6 million tons in the comparable 2011 period, according to SNL Energy.
The SNL analysis is based on U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data.
Peabody also began production at a new mine – Sage Creek – with 11,600 tons. Sage Creek will eventually replace the Foidel Creek Twentymile mine.
The Bowie 2 Mine in Paonia, operated by Bowie Resources LLC, after resolving technical problems, saw its production increase to 3.3 million tons in the 12-months ending in June compared to 839,000 tons in the earlier period.
There were declines in production at a few mines. Arch Coal Inc., the nation’s fourth largest coal producer, had a 10 percent drop in out put to 5.8 million tons at its West Elk Mine.
The production at the Deserado Mine in Rio Blanco County was down 26 percent to a little less than 1.6 million tons in the 12 months ending in June and the Elk Creek Mine, in Somerset, had a nearly 11 percent drop in output to 2.8 million tons, according to SNL figures.