Miners hope to become subdividers

  • A silo at Mid-Continent mine near Redstone, Colorado

    Paul Larmer

The bankrupt owners of a coal mine in central Colorado want the state to drop a lawsuit against them in exchange for cash and equipment.

But there's a catch. Mine owners want to subdivide 6,000 acres to generate some of the money for the mine's reclamation.

Mid-Continent Resources' latest plan to pay off its debts for its Coal Basin Mine near Redstone, Colo., calls for divvying up and selling 6,000 acres in and around the coal mine site.

The 35-acre "mountain recreational" tracts could bring $2 million, says attorney James Holden, and some of this money would be made available over time for reclamation. In exchange, miners want the state to drop its $3 million lawsuit against several company officers (HCN, 10/4/93).

The plan disturbs local environmentalists, who have been battling the company and the state over the reclamation.

"Must the price of the coal mine clean-up be a large, spread-out and unplanned backcountry development?" asks Redstone resident Bill Jochems in a Feb. 4 letter to Pitkin County Commissioners. Under Colorado law, tracts of land 35 acres or more are exempt from county review.

Jochems, president of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association, says the prospect of new roads below and within the property, much of which sits at elevations near 10,000 feet, concerns him the most.

Colorado officials say they also dislike the new liquidation plan. "We really hate it," says Steve Renner of the state Division of Minerals and Geology. "We want cash up front."

In late February the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board agreed and rejected the company's plan. The issue now goes to U.S. Bankruptcy Court for a vote by Mid-Continent creditors.

High Country News Classifieds