|Current Penalties ($)||Amount Paid
To Date ($)
|Note: Vacated Citations are not included in any reports on the DRS.|
* Hours worked and accidents & injuries now include office hours or accidents (subunit 99).|
** Current rates are based on data available as of 2009 Quarter 4. For a further explanation, please see this.
|Bay Shore||FirstEnergy Corp||FirstEnergy Generation Corp||Lucas County, OH||93498|
|Eastlake||FirstEnergy Corp||FirstEnergy Generation Corp||Lake County, OH||41061|
|Lake Shore||FirstEnergy Corp||FirstEnergy Generation Corp||Cuyahoga County, OH||39802|
February 28, 2012
The U.S. Bureau of Land management (BLM) accepted a $10.65 million bid for 35.5 million tons of publicly owned coal located about 50 miles north of Billings, Montana in Musselshell County on Feb. 28.
Signal Peak Energy, the operator of the Bull Mountain Mine No. 1 near Roundup, Mont. submitted an application for the coal lease in March of 2008. The five BLM coal parcels, now leased to Signal Peak Energy are within the life of the mine plan and are integral to the mine’s continued operations, according to the mine operator.
The company’s winning bid of around 30 cents per recoverable ton was double their original November bid — a bid the BLM had rejected as inadequate. Signal Peak was the lone bidder in both lease sales. The Bull Mountain Mine No. 1 is owned by three investment groups, Boich Co., FirstEnergy, both of Ohio and the Gunvor Group an international energy commodity trader, based mainly in Europe.
February 7, 2012
A Montana district judge denied Musselshell County’s request to receive all gross proceeds taxes paid by the Signal Peak mine near Billings, Mont., a ruling that guarantees the neighboring Yellowstone County a portion of the coal money.
According to District Judge Jeffrey M. Sherlock, Musselshell County’s argued it sees all of the side effects by having the mine’s entrance within its borders. However, the border of Yellowstone County extends over the mine’s underground production therefore entitling the county to some share of the tax revenue,
Signal Peak Energy paid $126,909 in coal gross proceeds taxes to Yellowstone County in 2010 and $328,617 to Musselshell County.
December 23, 2011
The Mining Safety and Health Administration has authorized Signal Peak’s Bull Mountains Mine to recommence underground mining operations three weeks after operations were suspended because of elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the mine. While operations had been suspended since December 1st, Signal Peak was able to avoid furloughs by shifting employees to maintenance work above ground.
December 21, 2011
The Bureau of Land Management has received a second request from Signal Peak to hold a coal lease sale for mining rights adjacent to Signal Peak’s Bull Mountains Coal Mine, saying the coal in question is crucial for the future of the mine. The BLM held a coal lease sale for the mining rights earlier in the year at Signal Peak’s request, but rejected Signal Peak’s bid after determining that the company’s offer of $5.3M for 35.5M tons of coal was beneath the true market value of the resource. Because the Powder River Basin is not considered a coal-mining region, leasing of mineral rights is handled through a process called “lease by application” where a company requests what tracts the BLM leases. Often times the resulting lease auctions attract only the bid of the company requesting them and the BLM must decide whether the bid is sufficiently high to be fair market value; Signal Peak was the only bidder on the previous lease sale.
Meanwhile, mining at Bull Mountains is suspended for a fourth week because of elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the mine. While the mine has successfully reduced the CO levels by pumping nitrogen into the mine, levels still remain dangerously high. In the meantime, Signal Peak is still employing a full workforce, but has them doing maintenance work instead of mining.
December 9, 2011
Signal Peak’s Bull Mountains Mine in Roundup, MT, remains closed for a second week as the mine struggles to control its levels of carbon monoxide by pumping nitrogen into the affected areas. Safety engineers from the Mining Safety and Health Administration are scheduled to arrive Thursday to try and evaluate the mine’s ventilation plans; there is no schedule for reopening the mine. In the meantime, all 300 mine workers are working above ground and no layoffs are planned.
December 1, 2011
Signal Peak’s Bull Mountains Mine suspended work on Thursday when carbon monoxide levels exceeded 125ppm in a previously mined tunnel. Forty-five miners were evacuated during the closure, but the mine said they would be reassigned to other jobs on the surface until the carbon monoxide levels subsided.
Levels of carbon monoxide above 125ppm must be reported to the Mining Safety and Health Administration, which must then decide when the mine is safe to re-enter. Signal Peak expected MSHA to give an order allowing the mine to send in 16 workers to try and dissipate the carbon monoxide by pumping nitrogen into the affected area, but no timetable was given for the resumption of normal operation.
November 17, 2011
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it is rejecting the $0.15/ton lease bid by Signal Peak for the rights to mine coal adjacent to its existing Bull Mountains Coal Mine. The company had planned to start mining the new seams as early as 2013, but the lost bid may setback company plans for increased production and shipping volumes of its product to Asia and South America.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer expressed concern about the rejection. “What is the price, BLM? Can you tell us? It makes it tough to bid when there’s no competitive bid and the people that sell it won’t tell you how much they want,” he said. Because of the BLM’s policy of “lease by application” in the Powder River Basin, auctions rarely have multiple bidders, and as such, the BLM does not disclose what it considers fair-market value to be for a coal reserve. Following the rules of the “lease by application” process, Signal Peak has the right to request another lease sale (or a different lease sale), but because of the mandatory public comment period, the fastest that the lease sale could go through would be 3-4 months.
Read article at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9R2RB4G2.htm
November 16, 2011
Signal Peak, the owners of the Bull Mountains coal mine, have submitted a bit of $0.15/ton for the right to extract more than 35M tons of coal in a plot adjacent to the Bull Mountains mine. If the Bureau of Land Management awards them the contract, they will also pay an 8% tariff any coal extracted. Because the Powder River Basin is not legally a coal-mining region, leases are awarded through a process called “lease by application” where mines tell the BLM what they want to lease. BLM then auctions that lease, which normally results in a single bidder, as it did in this case.
The BLM must now decide whether Signal Peak’s offer represents a fair value for the amount of coal involved. In two recent coal lease sales in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin, the winning bids were more than $1.10/ton, though the seams involved were surface mineable, and so should cost less to extract. Opponents to the coal lease cited, among other things, that the BLM has said that it will only consider the value of the top seam in the region when it determines whether the price is fair, whereas Signal Peak has said that it may mine two additional deeper seams. They also are concerned about Signal Peak’s previous announcement that most of the coal extracted will be exported to Asia.
October 18, 2011
The same day that the Signal Peak Mine announced the sale of 30% of itself, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it had opened a new coal lease sale for 33M tons of coal adjacent to the mine, possibly enabling the mine to triple its production moving forward. Under the “Lease By Application” rules, mining companies can request that the BLM lease the rights to mine tracts of coal. Signal Peak originally requested the coal lease sale back in 2008, but lawsuits by local landowners and the Northern Plains Resource Council delayed the sale until now.
Opponents of the coal sale point out that the Montana legislature approved a $2.8M annual tax break just last year, and now that tax break is helping to ship coal to China. “The coal’s going overseas and the profits are probably going overseas,” said local cattle rancher Steve Charter. “What do we get out of the deal if we don’t get the taxes and we get the cracks and the holes in the ground?”
October 18, 2011
A one-third interest in the Signal Peak Mine has been sold to a commodities trader who intends to increase production and move all coal sales to oversees customers. The Gunvor Group plans to increase production from 9M tons to 15M annually and to ship all the coal through the Westshore terminals in Vancouver, BC to Asian markets beyond.
Gunvor paid $400M for its new stake in the mine, and joins existing owners FirstEnergy and Boich. FirstEnergy will maintain control of the mining portion of the operation whereas Gunvor will be in charge of the marketing and sales of the coal.
Environmental Assessment of Federal Coal Lease, DOI-BLM-MT-C010-2009-0010-EA, Bull Mountains Mine No. 1, Federal Coal Lease MTM 97988, Musselshell County, Montana, April, 2011
List of the second group of mines notified that they are on the Potential Pattern of Violations list. Published November 11, 2010.