mining

The law that governs today’s hardrock mines on public lands in the West is nearly 150 years old. New legislation this week from House Democrats would enact significant reforms. 

Wyoming State Geological Survey

The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has developed a new tool to better understand where particular minerals exist across the state. The tool is an algorithm that processes data from rock and sediment samples taken in the latter half of the 20th century.

United Mine Workers of America logo
United Mine Workers of America

Retirees of the Kemmerer Coal Mine won't be getting their expected health-care benefits, but the United Mine Workers of America aren't giving up. 

Donlin Recano

Two years ago, Jim Bills retired from the Kemmerer mine in Southwestern Wyoming.

"After spending seven years in the Air Force, I spent 36 years with Westmoreland coal," he said.

Bills worked as a laborer, truck driver, and driller. His son works there now, too. Bills recalls watching retirees taken care of year-after-year. He was excited when his time finally came.

Nonfarm wage and salary employment.8 (Growth by Industry Sector: Year‐over‐year by percent and jobs; seasonally adjusted)
Wyoming Economic Analysis Division

Sales and use tax collection increased by nearly 11 percent for the state compared fiscal year 2018, according to a new report from Wyoming's Economic Analysis Division. Campbell and Converse Counties had the largest gains in collections each seeing about $10 million more.

Joint Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Meeting At UW
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is looking for a way to deal with idle limiting mining operations (LMOs). Those are small aggregate, or gravel, pits used by ranches or oil companies, among other entities, to build roads.

Starting this fall, our region will host something new: a graduate program in space resources.

“This is the very first program in the world that is focused on space resources,” says Angel Abbud-Madrid, the director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines.

Kemmerer Mine
Westmorealnd Coal Company

One of the largest producers of coal in the country may soon face Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Westmoreland Coal Company's stock has been in free fall over the last year and several of its primary customers are moving away from coal.

A look at the trajectory of Westmoreland Coal Company's Market Summary
NASDAQ

In the past year, Westmoreland Coal Company’s stock price has dropped 97 percent, and, on Wednesday, April 25th, the company will be removed from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange with shares hovering around 20 cents. But that’s just a symptom of a larger trend for the company. 

Two of Wyoming’s coal mines are changing ownership. Contura Energy has sold Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines to a private company called Blackjewel LLC.

Scott Copeland-The Nature Conservancy

There are thousands of abandoned mines in Wyoming. But recently Lander middle schoolers helped plant sage brush to help reclaim one mine near Jeffrey City.

The Bureau of Land Management teamed up with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups to teach kids about the value of the sage brush steppe ecosystem. BLM archeologist Gina Clingerman said you can’t just toss sage brush seeds out and expect them to thrive. That’s why she taught kids to plant seedlings.

House Committee on Natural Resources Logo
House Committee on Natural Resources

The House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing to discuss “modernizing” the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

  

The U.S. used to be the world’s number one uranium producer, and most of it came from Wyoming. But since the 1980s, production has fallen off a cliff. Prices are at rock bottom. That may be about to change — uranium’s biggest customer is the nuclear energy industry. In coming years, hundreds of new nuclear reactors are planned for China and India. Uranium companies in the U.S. are hoping to gear up for a boom.

Elements of the Market

Dan Boyce

  

Superfund cleanups are a priority for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He wants to cut through red tape that has left more than a thousand sites still contaminated with everything from radioactive waste to lead.

He also wants to remove sites that have already been cleaned up from the so-called National Priority List, which has more than 1300 sites. One of those sites is the town of Uravan.

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

The Powder River Basin Resource Council is taking issue with a proposed tax break to the uranium industry. Industry representatives say the cuts are necessary to help boost production and pricing. Opponents say the strategy has been tried twice without success.

In a report, the Wyoming Mining Association wrote the industry is facing near historically low prices and has had to lay off employees. Prices have dropped about 85% since 2007. 

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The Obama administration has released five options for making about 10 million acres of federal sagebrush habitat ineligible for new mining leases in the West in hopes of protecting the imperiled greater sage grouse.

FMC

A Connecticut-based company has purchased Wyoming’s largest trona mine for $1.6 billion.

The multinational company FMC has owned the Green River trona mine for more than 60 years, but last fall, it announced that it would sell off the business to pay down debt. Tronox, a company that’s primarily involved in titanium mining, appears to have been the highest bidder.

In a conference call with investors, Tronox CEO Tom Casey indicated that the company is not planning major changes to operations at the mine, which is the largest employer in southwest Wyoming.

Melodie Edwards

There are currently over 4,000 abandoned uranium mines in remote corners of the US. Out of sight, but for people living nearby, not out of mind. Uranium produces radon, which is known to cause lung cancer. In 2012, uranium was found in the tap water on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many say the time has come to clean up the mess. But that could cost billions. The Obama Administration is tackling the job by pushing for new fees on mining companies, but the industry says they’re too punishing. Now, new research could make uranium clean-up significantly cheaper.

INSIDE ENERGY: Dark Side Of The Boom: How Dangerous Is Too Dangerous?

Sep 18, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

It's no secret that the oil and gas industry is dangerous. As the industry has grown to employ over half a million oil and gas workers nationwide, the number of fatalities has grown as well. Last year, 112 oil and gas workers died on the job; the year before, 142. Nationwide, oil and gas workers are still six times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American.

Energy Information Administration

According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, mining occupied approximately 35 percent of Wyoming’s GDP in 2013, up from around 29 percent in 2003. That makes Wyoming the most mining-dependent state in the country.

The increase comes despite calls from the Wyoming Business Council to diversify the state’s industries.

Wyoming Principal Economist Jim Robinson said that after concentrating on energy for so long, growth in areas outside energy is slow.

A bacteria found naturally in the soil around uranium deposits may become a powerful tool in cleaning up old mine sites. A group of University of Wyoming scientists are collaborating with Cameco, a uranium mining company in Converse County. They’re experimenting with the bacteria’s ability to convert soluble uranium that can contaminate groundwater into less harmful solid form.

What are your thoughts on the proposed Rare Earth Mine near Sundance?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

The first rare earth minerals mine to open in the U.S. in decades could be here in Wyoming. Permitting gets underway this week for the Bear Lodge mine, near Sundance. Rare earths are a group of metals that are critical to high tech devices like smartphones and lasers. They’re currently mined almost exclusively in China. Rare Element Resources’ George Byers says the company is hoping to change that.

Stephanie Joyce

They’ve been called the secret ingredient of everything. Rare earths are a group of elements that make much of today’s technology possible, from smartphones to wind turbines to precision-guided missiles. For decades, China has dominated the rare earth market, but amid questions about the wisdom of allowing one country to control the supply chain, a mining project in Wyoming is getting underway. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, if the mine opens, it would be only be the second one in the United States and the first new one in decades.

Micah Schweizer

Melanie O’Hara grew up on the far side of the Hogback in Centennial. She reflects on the astonishing diversity of Centennial in the 19th century.

Micah Schweizer

Steve Gyorvary first came to South Pass, Wyoming in 1978. Ever since, he’s been working as a geologist and hard rock gold miner. He tells how he got into gold mining and acquired his own mine.

Nearly half of Wyoming is federal land, and the government collects billions of dollars in taxes and royalties every year from industries using that land. But it isn’t always clear where that money goes, and who benefits from it. Now, an international initiative is trying to change that.

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