coal mine

Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

A reclamation expert with Cloud Peak Energy is hoping techniques developed at one of the company’s Powder River Basin coal mines can be applied across the West. Kyle Wendtland helped develop a strategy to combat cheatgrass, an invasive species that’s bad for grazing. It’s become a major problem in the West, with more than 50 million acres affected. Currently, the most common method for removing it is to apply herbicides. Cloud Peak’s approach removes the weed mechanically and then reseeds the area with native grasses. Wendtland says it’s cutting-edge.

Ramaco LLC

While coal mines are being shuttered in the east, there’s a new mine being proposed for Wyoming. The company Ramaco has submitted an application for a mining permit to the Department of Environmental Quality. The mine would be just north of Sheridan and would produce up to 8 million tons of coal a year. Ramaco CEO Randall Atkins says he expects the mine to be profitable despite tough market conditions in part because it’s on private land, unlike most of the region’s coal mines.

A miner was killed at Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle coal mine in the Powder River Basin over the weekend, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Gillette News Record reports that Darwin Lee Reimer, 51, was driving a haul truck when it went over a highwall. 

Kimon Berlin via Flickr Creative Commons

A contractor died at Peabody Coal's North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin early Wednesday morning.

The contractor, whose name hasn't been released, died inside a hydraulic scoria crusher around 6 a.m., according to Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“The crusher apparently started up and it ultimately crushed the miner,” Loviere said. “That victim was airlifted to a nearby medical facility and he is deceased.”

Louviere says local MSHA officials are on the scene and will be conducting a thorough investigation.

A coal miner is dead after a bulldozer accident in the early morning hours on Sunday.

The incident happened at the Bridger coal mine near Rock Springs, which is jointly owned by PacifiCorp and Idaho Power. The Sweetwater County sheriff’s department says Mark Christopher Stassinos, 44, died after being thrown out of his bulldozer as it plunged over a highwall at the mine.

PacifiCorp spokesman Jeff Hymas says Stassinos had been working there for the last two years, and that mining operations have stopped pending an investigation.

NASA

Three miners are being treated for serious burns after a coal-dust fire at the North Antelope Rochelle mine on Tuesday.

The fire started while the workers were changing a bearing on a conveyor, according to Amy Louviere, a spokesperson for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. She writes in an email that coal dust filled the space the workers were in, and was ignited by the machinery. The agency is investigating.

U.S. Geological Survey

Last week, we reported that the federal government might be selling Powder River Basin coal for less than it’s worth. As reform advocate Tom Sanzillo described the sales:

The Wyoming Miners Hospital Board is looking to make changes in its programs, as the result of 8-percent budget cuts Governor Matt Mead has asked all state agencies to prepare for.

The Hospital Board assists miners in the state with medical costs related to hearing, respiratory, cardiac and muscle skeletal issues all of which are problem areas for miners.

Mary Ellen Young is a retired coal miner and executive director of the Wyoming Miners Hospital Board. She says the cuts will affect the Board’s services in two places.

An explosion at a coal mine northeast Wyoming was big enough to register on seismographs on the scale of
a small earthquake.

Some people in Gillette reported feeling the ground shake from 16 miles away.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the blast at 11:11 a.m. Tuesday. The blast happened in the area of Cloud Peak Energy's Cordero Rojo Mine southeast of Gillette and registered as large as a magnitude 4.5 earthquake.