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HollyFrontier Declines To Release Specifics On ‘Renewable Diesel’ Plant Work

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Eighteen months after announcing a major change in its operation and the release of 200 employees, work on HollyFrontier’s proposed renewable diesel plant in Cheyenne is progressing well, according to a company spokeswoman

Corinn Smith, director of corporate communications for the Dallas-based HollyFrontier, said although she could not provide details on the company’s efforts to convert its Cheyenne petroleum refinery to a renewable diesel plant, the company plans to begin production of its new product this year.

“I’m happy to highlight that we’re moving along well, and have moved operational timing up from (the first quarter of) 2022 to (the fourth quarter of) 2021,” she said in an email to Cowboy State Daily.

More information on specifics of the work will be provided once production begins, she said.

HollyFrontier announced in June 2020 that the petroleum refinery it operated in Cheyenne for 86 years would be converted to a plant that uses soybean oil to create up to 90 million gallons of “renewable diesel” per year.

At the time, the company said the work would require 12 to 18 months to complete and would result in the release of about 200 workers.

A slide presentation about the project released in November said the company would begin production of its new product in the fourth quarter of 2021, which ends in three weeks, on Dec. 31.

Smith also declined to answer questions about whether the 200 HollyFrontier employees who were expected to lose their jobs as a result of the work have all been laid off, although she did note that going forward, the plant will employ more than 80 people full-time.

“HollyFrontier is proud to be a part of the Cheyenne community and we look forward to employing more than 80 full-time employees at the facility,” she wrote.

News of the reduction in HollyFrontier’s workforce was met with dismay among state and local officials when it was announced.

“The announcement … is a devastating blow to Cheyenne, Laramie County and all of Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at the time.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:25 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, to reflect new quotes from HollyFrontier.

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Cheney Introduces Bill To Pay Wyoming For Money Lost Due to Biden’s Oil/Gas Moratorium

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced legislation this week that would compensate Wyoming and other states for millions of dollars in revenue they lost because of President Joe Biden’s oil and gas leasing moratorium enacted earlier this year.

The Payment In Lieu of Lost Resources (PILLR) Act would compensate states for the property rentals, bonuses, royalties and severance taxes lost as a result of a halt on the lease of federal land for energy development issued by the federal government.

“The executive orders signed by President Biden on his first day in office targeting the energy industry were misguided,” Cheney said this week about the bill.

“Not only did these unfair mandates negatively impact the work of energy producers in Wyoming, but they cost our state a key source of revenue that we depend on to educate our kids, support our first responders, and provide for other critical needs,” she said.

“While the best course of action would be to allow new energy leases and permits to move forward unimpeded, the bill I’ve introduced will ensure that citizens in Wyoming and other states that rely on money generated by the energy industry are compensated the full amount of the revenue lost so they can continue to meet the needs of their citizens, despite the Biden Administration’s thoughtless and political agenda,” she continued.

The bill could bring in $100 million in revenue for Wyoming, according to an estimate from University of Wyoming economics professor Dr. Timothy Considine.

Gov. Mark Gordon said he supports the bill.

“Since the inception of the Biden moratorium on federal oil and gas lease sales, I have emphasized that this bad idea would disproportionately affect western states like Wyoming,” Gordon said this week.

“Even though the BLM has begun the scoping process for the lost sales scheduled for the first two quarters of the year, Wyoming and our local counties will not receive any lease bonus bids this calendar year, a loss of millions of dollars. Congresswoman Cheney’s bill is a great start in restoring Wyoming’s lost revenue,” the governor said.

Jim Willox, the chairman of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, also praised Cheney for her work on this legislation.

“The Wyoming County Commissioners Association applauds Congresswoman Cheney’s efforts to see that states and counties continue to receive royalty payments despite the Biden Administration’s attempt to halt oil and gas leasing on public lands,” Willox said.

“Wyoming relies on these funds to provide essential services, including education, libraries, courthouses and judicial systems, public health and senior centers, safe roads and more. This bill ensures that Wyoming’s counties and communities do not suffer as a result of this Administration’s leasing ban,” he said.

study from the American Petroleum Institute issued in 2020 estimated that $641 million in revenue would be at risk for the State of Wyoming if a federal leasing and development ban were enacted.

A report released last week by the administration of President Joe Biden recommended an overhaul of the system used to lease parcels of federal land for oil and gas drilling to limit areas available for development and increase the cost for companies to drill on public lands and waters, according to NPR.

The report by the Interior Department stopped short of recommending an end to oil and gas leasing on public lands, but officials told NPR it would lead to a more responsible leasing process that provides a better return to U.S. taxpayers.

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U.S. Power Plants Short On Coal; Utilities Scrambling With Cold Temps Ahead

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The price for Wyoming’s coal is rising in the face of low supplies at power plants across the country, rising natural gas prices and predictions of cold temperatures in the near future.

Despite efforts by some political leaders to halt the use of coal as an energy source, energy producers are turning to the fuel in increasing numbers this year, only to find it in short supply.

But coal supplies at U.S. power plants have dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s and acquiring the resource has sent prices soaring. And even acquiring coal is proving to be a challenge because of supply chain issues that every industry is experiencing.

None of this is a surprise to Travis Deti, the executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association.

“We’ve been screaming from the rooftops for the last 10 years that America needs coal and that you can’t throw all of your eggs in one energy basket,” Travis told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

“(Natural) gas prices were never going to stay below $2.00 (per 1,000 cubic feet) forever. Gas is at about $4.60 and some analysts are predicting it to be over $7.00 in the winter,” he said.

The problem is that coal is sold in advance of when it is needed and because of the push to move away from coal as a power source, the resource has lost market share, leaving suppliers unprepared to meet this year’s demand.

Getting coal back on the table as a fuel is easier said than done.  As Deti explained, the problem does not lie in a shortage of coal, but in producing the necessary amounts to meet that demand. After adjusting to lower production levels, coal producers require manpower to boost production again.

“Ever since the decline started to happen a decade ago,  we said you need to keep coal in the mix.  You gotta keep it in the mix,” Deti said.

Coal is the one resource, he said, that is “always affordable, always reliable, and always abundant.”

“As for reliability, coal-fired power is going to be there when you turn on the light switch,” he said. “Unlike the renewables which we saw, fatally, in Texas last winter.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that coal supplies have become so low in some areas of the country that one power company that serves one-fifth of the U.S. population is reserving coal for use during the coldest days this winter.

The high price for coal is a good thing for Wyoming, especially if mines can get it out of the ground.

However, there’s a shortage of workers. Deti said mines in the Powder River Basin could use an extra 200 miners right now, as well as more trains to move the coal.

“You’ve got companies up in the basin right now that are offering $5,000 signing bonuses just to come on board,” he said. 

Deti said the short-term prospects for coal is good.

“The basin is sold-out for 2022,” he said. “They are selling into 2023. We are going to have a couple pretty good years.”

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Gordon, Petroleum Association Say Biden Should Be Embarrassed Over Oil, Gas Report

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Neither Gov. Mark Gordon nor the Petroleum Association of Wyoming are impressed with a report calling for an overhaul of the federal government’s oil and gas leasing program.

The report released Friday by the administration of President Joe Biden overhaul of the system used to lease parcels of federal land for oil and gas drilling to limit areas available for development and increase the cost for companies to drill on public lands and waters, according to NPR.

Gordon said on Tuesday the report lacked any real merit.

“The Biden administration’s long-awaited review…lacks merit and is a frontal assault on Western lands that leaves nothing to be thankful for,” Gordon said. “The report encourages increasing the cost of producing oil and gas in Wyoming by hiking the royalty rate, taking more areas off the table for federal leasing  and increasing the costs of bonding. None of these options are wise or necessary for Wyoming.”

The report by the Interior Department stopped short of recommending an end to oil and gas leasing on public lands, but officials told NPR it would lead to a more responsible leasing process that provides a better return to U.S. taxpayers.

On Tuesday, Gordon argued that Wyoming was not over-leased, pointing out that only 23% of the total mineral acreage held by the federal government in the state is leased.

“With our state’s  oil and gas industry just showing signs of recovery, this is the worst time to needlessly increase expenses such as jacking up royalty rates or instituting higher bond requirements,” the governor said. “Wyoming already has an industry-funded, successful plugging and abandonment program. While we are asking our enemies to produce more oil, under less stringent regulations and drain our own national security reserves, further weakening our economy, we need to remember that the only result of the President’s actions will be driving more activity to foreign countries and to states with fewer federal lands and minerals.”

Gordon also said that the Biden administration wants the United States to become more dependent on the nation’s adversaries.

“We can do more to reduce CO2 emissions by innovating new technologies that improve our standard of living than regulating into oblivion,” he said. “Any potential modifications to the oil and gas leasing program identified by this review could have been brought forward without the illegal and devastating moratorium. As I have stated on multiple occasions to the Biden administration, the leasing moratorium does nothing to achieve their climate agenda.”

Officials with the Petroleum of Association of Wyoming shared Gordon’s opinions, saying the Biden administration should be embarrassed by the report.

“As fuel prices continue to rise, the Biden Administration’s solution is to increase the cost of production, build more barriers to Wyoming’s development and choke off exploration of new reserves. No wonder they don’t want anyone to read the report,” the organization said on Friday. “The report repeats overblown claims about the government needing a ‘fair return,’ when in fact the mineral program is second only to the IRS in revenue production for the treasury.”

The timing of the report’s release on the Friday after Thanksgiving was also criticized by PAW.

“Wyomingites should take this report for what it is: at best a politically motivated document repeating old anti-development talking points, and at worst a nonsensical screed,” PAW officials said. “Ask yourself, if the oil and gas program was in such desperate need of reform, why did the Biden Administration try to hide it’s report on the issue by releasing it on a day most people would not be paying attention.”

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Wyoming Nuke Expert: Nuclear Reactor On Moon Is Logical Next Step

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Photo: Dave Bell, Wyoming Mountain Photography

Although the conversation over the last few months here in Wyoming has focused on the new nuclear reactor scheduled to come to the Cowboy State in a few years, don’t be surprised if the next location discussed will be the moon.

Sure, it may sound like something out of a science fiction film, but Wyoming nuclear energy expert David Miller thinks it is a logical next step for the nation to take.

Last week, NASA announced that it was seeking proposals for a fission surface power system on the moon, as its scientists are looking to establish a sun-independent power source for missions to the moon by the end of the decade, according to ABC News.

“I don’t know what else you would use, because while solar panels could work, there are long periods of time where particular areas of the moon aren’t exposed to sunlight,” Miller said. “If there’s going to be a manned moon base, I would much rather have a nuclear power plant keeping me warm and helping me do whatever I need to do.”

The proposed reactor would be built on Earth and then sent to the moon. If successful in supporting a sustained human presence on the moon, the next objective would be Mars.

Miller did note that an accident involving solar panels would also be more likely on the moon than an accident involving a nuclear power plant.

“It makes sense for us to associate ‘nuclear’ with ‘bomb’ since the 1950s as it did to associate ‘electric’ with ‘chair’ 100 years ago,” he said. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind that nuclear is the only way forward from this point. In my opinion, coal has a lot more issues and kills far more people than nuclear ever thought about killing.”

He added that using nuclear energy in space travel is nothing new, as nuclear isotopes were used to power the Voyager probes and others like it that were sent to travel the solar system. It is impossible to send out more fuel for an expedition like that, so nuclear energy is the best choice, he said.

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Wyoming’s Jonah Energy Wins Recognition For Improvements In Emission Tracking

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming natural gas company has received recognition from an international program for providing detailed measurements of the methane emissions from its natural gas field.

Jonah Energy has achieved the “Gold Standard” in the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, a United Nations-sponsored program, for its efforts to accurately report emissions from its production fields.

Paul Ulrich, Jonah’s vice present for government and regulatory affairs, said the achievement is the result of Jonah’s efforts to provide actual verified data on the methane emissions from equipment at the fields rather than estimates created using mathematical formulas.

The OGMP is a partnership involving environmental groups and members of the oil and gas industry that is designed to improve the accuracy of emission data being collected around the world. The resulting standardized emission measurements are expected to make it easier to track methane emission changes and reduce emissions.

Ulrich said Jonah won the “gold standard” recognition by meeting 85% of the reporting criteria set forth by the OGMP and by putting plans in place for increasing accuracy and reducing emissions in the future.

“It’s a recognition that our work to date and our commitment to further reduce emissions and migrate to direct emission measurements is meeting their criteria,” he said.

Achieving the “gold standard” shows that natural gas can be a very clean energy source, he added.

“For us, it means we’ve taken another step in leading the industry and demonstrating to the public that natural gas can be a clean foundational energy source for decades to Coe if we continue to produce it much cleaner than we have in the past,” he said. “We’ve laid that foundation.”

He added Jonah has already reduced its potential for methane emissions by 68% over the last three years.

Jonah Energy is one of two natural gas companies to have joined the OGMP. The other is EQT, which produces natural gas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Jonah’s accomplishment won praise from an official with the United Nations Environmental Programme.

“We applaud Jonah Energy’s leadership and congratulate Jonah for being the first US company to reach the highest standard for their methane reporting plan in the oil and gas industry,” said Manfredi Caltagirone.

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Kemmerer Selected As Location For Nuclear Power Plant Project

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Kemmerer has been selected as the preferred site for a proposed nuclear power plant project, officials from TerraPower announced on Tuesday.

TerraPower selected a site near the Naughton Power Plant as the location for its advanced reactor demonstration project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, officials announced in a news release.

“People across Wyoming welcomed us into their communities over the past several months, and we are excited to work with PacifiCorp to build the first Natrium plant in Kemmerer,” said Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower. “Our innovative technology will help ensure the continued production of reliable electricity while also transitioning our energy system and creating new, good-paying jobs in Wyoming.”

In June, Gov. Mark Gordon, joined by officials with TerraPower and Rocky Mountain Power, announced the “next generation” uranium plant would be built at one of Rocky Mountain Power’s four retiring coal-fired power plants by 2027 or 2028. The reactor will generate 345 megawatts of power using Wyoming uranium.

The proposed “Natrium” reactor would use technology developed by TerraPower, a nuclear power innovation company founded by software developer Bill Gates, and GE Hitachi. The technology results in a smaller nuclear power plant than has previously been built, along with improved safety measures and a power storage system.

“This project is an exciting opportunity to explore what could be the next generation of clean, reliable, affordable energy production while providing a path to transition for Wyoming’s energy economy, communities and employees,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp.

Determining Factors

The demonstration project team evaluated a variety of factors when selecting the Naughton Power Plant, where the remaining two coal-fired electrical units are scheduled to retire in 2025.

Factors included community support, the physical characteristics of the site, the ability of the site to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, access to existing infrastructure and the needs of the power grid.

“Just yesterday, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and today DOE is already putting it to work with more than $1.5 billion heading to Wyoming,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The energy communities that have powered us for generations have real opportunities to power our clean energy future through projects just like this one, that provide good-paying jobs and usher in the next wave of nuclear technologies.”

The Natrium reactor demonstration project’s preferred siting is subject to the finalization of definitive agreements on the site and applicable permitting, licensing and support.

Next Steps

TerraPower anticipates submitting the demonstration plant’s construction permit application to the NRC in mid-2023. The plant is expected to be operational in the next seven years, aligning with the advanced reactor demonstratin project schedule mandated by Congress.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security.

“On behalf of Kemmerer and surrounding communities, we are pleased and excited to host the Natrium demonstration project. This is great for Kemmerer and great for Wyoming,” said Bill Thek, Kemmerer’s mayor.

The demonstration plant is intended to validate the design, construction and operational features of the Natrium technology. The plant’s storage technology can boost the system’s output to 500 megawatts of power when needed, which is equivalent to the energy required to power around 400,000 homes.

Renewable Resources

The energy storage capability allows the plant to integrate its power with power from renewable resources.

Through the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, DOE worked with Congress to allocate nearly $2.5 billion in new funding for ARDP.

This allocation, along with previous funding, will cover DOE’s commitment to TerraPower for the first five years of a seven-year, $2 billion agreement.

TerraPower will match this investment dollar for dollar. Federal funding is provided for the demonstration activity under a cost-shared cooperative agreement and the result of the project will be a commercially-owned generating asset.

Best Choice

After the announcement, Cowboy State Daily spoke with nuclear energy expert and former state legislator Dave Miller, who felt Kemmerer was the best choice of the four options in Wyoming.

Miller, who has been a major proponent of the state being home to nuclear energy, told Cowboy State Daily that he favored Kemmerer over Gillette or Rock Springs because there is enough economic activity in those two communities to keep their economies afloat.

The location was picked after the company conducted an extensive evaluation process and met with community leaders and members.

Congressional Reaction

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a strong advocate for U.S. energy independence applauded Tuesday’s announcement as a win for Wyoming.

“Wyoming powers America, and I’m so excited for the way that advanced nuclear energy production is going to play a role in our state’s energy sector and economy for years to come,” Lummis said in a statement.

“TerraPower and PacifiCorp’s decision to build their new Natrium reactor in Kemmerer is a huge boon not only to Kemmerer, but to Wyoming’s and America’s future energy independence,” she said.

“I look forward to watching this plant come to fruition, and am proud to support Wyoming’s continued place as the number one net energy exporter in the nation.”

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State Sen. Warns Of Wyoming Power Grid Failure, Says Renewables Not Reliable Enough

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming came dangerously close to a power grid failure issue during February’s cold snap, according to one of the state’s leading energy experts.

State Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, a consultant for the energy industry, told Cowboy State Daily that the state’s energy grid almost reached its maximum capacity during the weather event that caused power supplies in Texas to fail last winter.

“On the 12th of February, it was part of the same phenomenon, the peak load got to more than 97% of available capacity, and the reserve margins were razor thin,” Case said. “And if there would have been any kind of problem — a gas delivery problem, a failure of a generating unit, a transmission failure — we would have been closer to the Texas situation than we know.”

The cold snap in Texas resulted in the death of 210 people due to power outages and exposure to sometimes sub-zero temperatures.

While Case said Wyoming’s energy transmission systems are better prepared to withstand extreme cold temperatures than those in Texas, the energy supply during winter weather has limited capacity.

And when polar vortex or heat dome weather patterns cover areas of more than 1,000 miles or more, as were seen this past year, the sheer volume of power being requested by consumers taxes the existing power grids.“

It’s not like we can import electricity from Colorado, because everybody has the same phenomenon,” Case said.

Case’s doctorate in natural resources and public utility economics has served him well in his elected position. Case often speaks out on legislative issues concerning the future of the energy industry in Wyoming. 

From his perspective, the push for renewable energy sources often ignores the need for what Case called “dispatchable” energy that can generate more reliable power.

“You’ve got rooftop solar on people’s homes and solar energy and wind energy, but it’s not really dispatchable — it’s weather dependent,” Case said. “So we have to have something that we could turn on, and ramp up when that energy is not available.”

Case pointed out that some renewable energy sources rely on natural gas as backup, because natural gas is a reliable, dispatchable, source of power.

“Renewables don’t work all the time,” he said. “So we’ve increased our reliance on natural gas. And in these very cold long-term events, we’re having delivery problems for gas, because there’s huge demand for domestic heating. And then the electric system can run short… and then it can get circular, because sometimes you need electricity to help make gas move. So it’s a real serious situation.”

Case noted that while the renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are cheap, proponents of renewables often fail to take into account the costs to keep the power grid online.

“We are on thin ice with respect to try and to push more renewable energy into the grid without figuring out how to make the grid work better,” he said, “or without having, at the same time, electricity that can be brought up when there’s no sun, and there’s no wind — and plenty of it.”

Case noted that coal is one of the best forms of dispatchable energy, but the carbon emissions from coal-fired plants are considered by some to be a contributor to climate change.

“Up by Casper, where the Glenrock plant is, you can see that the plant is running hard out on cold winter days,” he said. “Even though the whole country is trying to get away from coal, those are still valuable assets. “They may be so valuable that we might want to slow down their retirements – but almost every coal plant in the country is scheduled to be retired, and those are plants that burn Wyoming coal, by and large,” he continued. “The trouble is, we haven’t really thought what the gap is going to be.”

Case listed other forms of renewable energy that are being studied for use in Wyoming, from hydroelectric to geothermal to nuclear.

“There’s a proposal in Wyoming for a nuclear power plant, from a company called Terra Power,” he explained. “Rita Meyer, who used to be the state treasurer, is helping that company. It’s a serious consideration, partly because of the proponents behind it — Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, two of the richest people in the United States.”

But in the meantime, Wyoming residents should be prepared to go without power for long periods of time, as extreme weather incidents are becoming more frequent.

“You know, in Wyoming, we get power failures, usually because we have a winter storm that drops branches on power lines, right? Well, that’s not what we’re talking about,” he said. “This would be much more wide scale than that. A polar vortex event can be 12 to 13 days. So I really think it’s always good idea for homeowners to be prepared. “They should have a kit with warm clothes available an alternative heat source if you can; emergency lighting, emergency food,” he continued. “I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but what happened last February, when it happened in Texas — we came closer than we care to mess with.” 

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Arch Nets $89M Amid ‘Strong Thermal Coal Markets’ In Third Quarter

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Arch Resources closed out its most recent quarter with $89.1 million in net income with thermal coal segments showing a significant improvement over the previous quarter, the company announced Tuesday.

During the third quarter of 2021 (3Q2021), gross margins for Arch’s Legacy Thermal assets came in at $58 million, an increase of more than 40 percent over the previous quarter that will allow the coal giant to advance its long-term reclamation and retirement plans for operations in the Powder River Basin, according to an Oct. 26 quarterly earnings report.

“We continue to maintain tight capital discipline in our legacy thermal segment and to work to reduce our long-term closure obligations in a systemic and measured way,” said Arch CEO and President Paul Lang in a statement. “While we do that, we are simultaneously continuing to move aggressively to capture the still-significant value of these high-quality assets in an increasingly tight market environment.”

Sales volumes this past quarter across Arch’s thermal coal segments showed a 25 percent increase over the same period last year with the company effectively selling out its thermal mines for 2022 at “record-high pricing levels,” per the report.

Over the last three months, Arch’s thermal assets committed 66.5 million tons of coal priced at $14.03 per ton, according to the report.

As of Oct. 26, Arch remains committed to transitioning away from thermal coal towards steel and metallurgical markets, according to the report, and has reduced its asset retirement obligation in the Powder River Basin by $19.3 million since the end of 2020.

Coal Creek Mine is still slated for closure in 2022 with Arch completing $23 million worth of reclamation at the south Gillette mine to date, the report states.

Care and responsibility are key as the company continues the long-term wind-down of its legacy thermal assets, per the report.

All legacy thermal retirement obligations will be handled in a way that serves the needs of the company’s thermal employee base, mine communities, and thermal power customers, Arch said in the report.

Moving forward, the coal giant remains confident that the thermal mines can and will self-fund their own closure obligations while continuing to provide significant cash flow for the company.

Global and domestic thermal coal markets remain exceptionally strong at present, the report states, with countries around the world struggling to secure sufficient supplies of energy to support quickly recovering economies.

Based on current projections, Arch’s thermal segment should be on track to generate a gross margin next year that “substantially exceeds the entire asset retirement obligation for its thermal mines.”

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Potential Gold Mine Near Cheyenne Could Produce Tens Of Millions In Revenue For State

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By Elyse Kelly, The Center Square for Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne may soon boast the only working gold mine in the state of Wyoming.

U.S. Gold Corp., a gold exploration and development company, is investigating the potential of an old copper mine adjacent to Curt Gowdy State Park to produce gold. If continued data collection bears out hopes, the Copper King (CK) Gold Project could produce tens of millions in revenue for the state.

And U.S. Gold Corp. is hopeful.

Jason Begger, project spokesperson for the CK Gold Project, says with every bit of data they collect, the project becomes more certain.

“All indications are that it could work,” he told The Center Square.

The mine site is located at Copper King, an old copper mine that hasn’t been worked since before World War II and is owned by the state. The gold deposit has been known to exist for a long time, but new mining technology has finally reached a point where experts think it could be worth opening again, Begger said.

Currently the company estimates the mine holds 230 million pounds of copper and 700,000 ounces of gold awaiting extraction, according to Begger. The operation would be hard rock mining. Begger said the ore is trapped within granite and requires forcible extraction.

U.S. Gold Corp. is in consultation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to assess any environmental and wildlife impacts the operation could have. 

“The area is a part of what’s called critical winter range for mule deer, and so we’re working with the regulators to determine what sort of mitigation efforts can be done,” he said.

If the project moves forward, Begger said they estimate the financial boon to the state could be in the tens of millions.

“We have partnered with the University of Wyoming and their economic analysis division and they’ll be completing an economic impact analysis of both tax revenue to the State of Wyoming, vendors, sales tax – the kind of broader impacts – so that is in the works,” he said.

Begger pointed out as Wyoming and the country embrace new technologies like electric cars, manufacturers are going to require a lot of copper – copper the CK Gold Project could produce. 

The project is roughly a 10-year operation, according to Begger.

“It’s a nice shot in the arm for the state of Wyoming,” he said.

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