National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office
Coal Basin Mine Project, CO
Inspect Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) in Coal Basin, Pitkin County, Colorado
The Coal Basin mining operation was located on the divide that separates the North Fork of the Gunnison watershed from the Crystal River watershed. Drainage from the east side of Huntsman Ridge flows east through several tributaries into Coal Creek, the topographic basin within which the mine facilities were located. The collective area of the mine entries and preparation plant is referred to locally as Coal Basin. All mine portals and surface facilities in the basin are located in Pitkin County and primarily within the White River National Forest, with some interspersed private lands. The underground workings extended to the west under Huntsman Ridge into Gunnison County.
Mining of the Coal Basin deposits began in 1895 and continued until 1908 when production ceased for many years. Mid-Continent Resources began producing coking coal at the Coal Basin mine in 1956. The Coal Basin Mine consisted of five adjacent underground mines, a rock tunnel entry, a preparation plant, two coal waste piles, one development waste pile, an extensive road system and numerous ancillary facilities. The five mines were drift mines, driven from the outcrop down-dip through the western flank of Coal Basin and under Huntsman Ridge. The mines were interconnected and made up one mine complex with five entries. Coal, men and equipment were brought to the surface through one bore of the rock tunnel.
A diverse climate characterizes the Coal Basin area due to the precipitous rise in elevation. The lowest point within the disturbed area was the coal preparation plant at 8,000 feet, while the highest point is along Huntsman Ridge at 11,852 feet. As a result, temperature, precipitation, and wind conditions are quite variable throughout the disturbed area. The surface disturbance of the mine site covered 236 acres that are on public land administered by the White River National Forest.
Currently, State and Federal AML departments are spending significant amounts of time and money trying to identify and repair AML features. Driving to the remote sites have the potential to incur damages to state and federal vehicles due to the rough terrain. This part of the proposed project will be conducted using video from the Raven A to record the area and identify and map AML features such as portals and other dangerous openings, from a safe distance. This review will also provide a means to scale features and help the State of Colorado determine the best course of action to repair the AML features if needed. The outcome will produce a thorough site review in less time and expense for the inspector and Office of Surface Mining.
State and Federal Inspectors will accompany the operators to determine if the technology is suitable for identifying and scaling certain AML features.
Mission is scheduled for September 10-14, 2012
Project Point of Contact:
Senior Environmental Protection Specialist
Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology
1313 Sherman Street, Room 215
Denver, Colorado 80203
Phone: 303-866-3567 X 8110
Mission Photos and Video