A recently permitted coal mine outside Sheridan, Wyo. that is slated to be a research site for alternative uses of coal, is being fought by local landowners and environmentalists.

Powder River Basin Resource Council Logo

The Powder River Basin Resource Council recently filed an appeal challenging the state’s approval of the permit for the new mine. The Council submitted the appeal to petition for a hearing on the matter after Ramaco Carbon was given the OK by state officials to proceed with the mining at the former mine outside Sheridan, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

“Our appeal is based on a serious deficiency related [to] subsidence,” said Jill Morrison, executive director of Powder River Basin Resource Council, an environmental group. “That area already has subsidence issues and underground coal fires.”

Morrison said that a permit for the mine was defeated by her group in 2017 “because it was deficient.”

Ramaco Carbon logo

Mine owner Ramaco Carbon declined to comment on the appeal. But if and when the Brook Mine opens it will employ a few dozen to start, the company has said.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality gave Ramaco Carbon approval to mine coal/carbon ore at the Brook Mine. It will be the state’s first new coal mine in about four decades, according to Ramaco Carbon.

The mine’s purpose will be to develop alternative uses for coal, other than burning it. Development work before mining operations is expected to start soon. Local laid-off miners will be among those hired when the mine opens. Initially, the mine will hire 30 to 40 people for direct mining positions. A carbon technology company, Ramaco Carbon is based in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Ramaco Carbon’s Chairman and CEO, Randall Atkins, said after the recently granted permit approval that the state’s greenlighting the mine acknowledged the company’s good stewardship of the area’s quality of life and environment.

“It recognized our investment in the Sheridan area since 2011… This project has been privately funded without Wyoming state involvement. We are grateful for the efforts and professionalism of the staff of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, who has worked with us over the past eight years. These joint efforts have created a mine plan that will serve as a national model,”  Atkins said.

Ramaco Carbon currently has five research grants with the US Department of Energy on coal-to-product applications.

Atkins noted that Wyoming produces more coal than any other US state. “This mine can help build a new Carbon Valley in the Powder River basin region,” he said.

Jeff Barron, of Western Water Consultants, Inc., was the principle permitting engineer for the mine. He touted the quality of the mine’s environmental plan.

“This mine has the strongest environmental and quality of life protections of any coal permit ever considered in Wyoming. I think the Sheridan community will realize it’s a great long-term benefit to the whole area,” Barron said.

Morrison, for her part, said the mine makes no sense. “Who in their right mind is opening a coal mine these days?” she said.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality last month, under 12 conditions, permitted the mining to be done by Brook Mining Company LLC, a subsidiary of Ramaco Carbon.

“We’re disappointed that the permit has been issued, but we hope that the numerous conditions will protect our health, water, safety, and property,” said Anton Bocek, a landowner near the mine boundary. We also hope that Ramaco is going to be a good neighbor, that they listen to and respect the neighboring landowners.” 

The department is reviewing the environmentalists’ appeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.