King II Mine

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

King II Mine is a U.S. coal mine in Hesperus, Colorado, owned by GCC Energy .


The below satellite image shows the location of the King II coal mine in Hesperus, Colorado.

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The King II mine is located in La Plata County in southwestern Colorado, approximately 6 miles west-southwest of Hesperus, Colorado, and about 14 miles west of Durango, Colorado.[1]

Workings at the original mine (King I) were depleted in 2009 and those portals have been sealed. The King II surface facilities were constructed in 2008.[2]

The mine supplies low-ash, low mercury super-compliant, bituminous coal to GCC Energy's domestic and international customers predominantly for the purpose of manufacturing cement and concrete, but also to power the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad located in Durango.[3]

In 2020, the mine produced 0.6 million tons, and had 85 employees.[4]


On January 10, 2018, expecting that the reserves at King II would soon be depleted,[5] GCC Energy submitted a lease application to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Colorado State Office for a mine expansion. The proposed new lease would contain approximately 2,462 acres located adjacent to and immediately northwest of the King II Mine. Known as the "Dunn Ranch Area," the proposed lease area consists of federal coal beneath surface estate predominantly owned by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, along with a smaller amount of other private surface owners and BLM-administered surface estate.[1]

On October 11, 2019, the BLM approved GCC Energy's proposal. Before mining can occur, GCC Energy must be the highest qualified bidder in the competitive lease sale, after which the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) would make a recommendation to the Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) on whether or not to approve the proposed mining plan modification. If approved, construction could begin in 2020.[6]

GCC Energy estimates the coal lease would allow approximately 22 years of additional coal production at the King II mine. The projected mine life and operating plans are anticipated to extend through the year 2043. Without the expansion, the mine life would only extend through the year 2022.[1]

As of February 2020, the expansion is listed in the MSHA database as the King III mine, although no production or employees are listed in the entry.[4]


In 2014, GCC received approval from the State of Colorado do increase production to 1.4 million tons a year. Initially, GCC was only permitted to extract 0.61 million tons of coal from the publicly owned coalfield a year. However, the company did not receive an approval from the US Interior Department, which has the final say. Mine started increasing its production over 0.61 million tons from 2014 onwards, despite the lack of federal approval. In 2016, the NGO WildEarth Guardians complained with the US Office of Surface Mining. In 2017, the NGO stated that they expected to see legal action taken against GCC.[7]

A coalition of conservation groups filed a lawsuit in December 2020 for the expansion process to be suspended, and for the King II mine to be closed. The lawsuit claimed that King II mine was not compliant with water protection rules, and that it was not possible for the mine to operate safely. The coalition consists of Southwest Advocates, a group of residents who live near the mine, and the Citizens for Constitutional Integrity.[5]

Project Details

  • MSHA id: 0504864
  • Sponsor: GCC Energy LLC
  • Parent Company: GCC Energy LLC
  • Location: Hesperus, Colorado, United States
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.247171, -108.131691 (exact)
  • Status Operating
  • Production Capacity: 600,000 to 800,000 tons per year[1]
  • Production: 592,669 tons in 2020[4]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves:
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Mine Size: 2,812 acres
  • Mine Type: Underground
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Source of Financing:

Project Expansion Details

  • Status: Proposed
  • Production Capacity: 600,000 to 800,000 tons per year (proposed)[1]
  • Mineable Reserves: 9.5 million tons
  • Mine Expansion Size: 2,462 acres
  • Start Year: 2020 (proposed)
  • Source of Financing:

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bureau of Land Management Final Environmental Assessment Bureau of Land Management Colorado, Oct. 11, 2019.
  2. Colorado Coal Mines - Activity Status Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, accessed November 2019.
  3. About Us GCC Energy, accessed November 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 U.S. department of labor, MSHA, Mine Data Retrieval System, accessed June 23, 2021
  5. 5.0 5.1 Romeo, Jonathan (December 16, 2020). "Lawsuit seeks to close GCC Energy's King II coal mine". The Durango Herald. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
  6. King II Dunn Ranch Area Coal Lease-by-Application & Mine Plan Modification project ePlanning site Bureau of Land Management Colorado, accessed November 2019.
  7. Nichols, Jeremy (August 25, 2017). "Dethroning the King II Mine (And the Coal Industry)". WildEarth Guardians. Retrieved June 23, 2021.