State

Mar 27, 2013 2:24 AM by Eugene Daniels

BLM issues coal lease changes for West Elk Mine

SOMERSET, Colo. (AP) - Federal officials have issued two lease modifications allowing Arch Coal Inc.'s West Elk Mine in Gunnison County to expand.

The Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday that the modifications allow for federal coal leasing on about 1,700 more acres next to the mine's existing leases. The BLM says that will allow the mine to extend its life for up to three more years and to recover about 10 million more tons of coal.

The BLM says the mine employs 378 people, and Gunnison County receives about $2 million in annual tax revenues as the result of coal mining there.

Conservation groups had objected to the expansion, partly over concerns about the venting of natural gas from the mine.

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