SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council Wednesday dismissed an appeal meant to delay the Brook Mine. In doing so, the EQC affirmed the grant of the mine and reclamation permit issued by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, which had formally approved the mine permit in July.
The new mine will be located north of Sheridan.
Coal technology firm Ramaco Carbon, owner of the Brook Mine, has worked with the DEQ for nearly a decade on the mine permit. The mine will supply coal for both the company’s research activity and ultimately for manufacturing of advanced carbon products and materials, as opposed to the traditional use of thermal coal for electricity.
The appeal was brought by the Powder River Basin Resource Council Aug. 6, which has spent more than six years attempting to delay or stop the new mine.
“We’re disappointed that the permit has been issued without stronger conditions for a subsidence plan, but we hope that the other conditions placed on the permit will protect our health, water, safety, and property. We also hope that Ramaco will do the right thing by being a good neighbor here in the valley and be open to talking with the neighbors," said nearest landowner to the mine Anton Bocek, in a statement released by PRBRC Wednesday.
The appeal included several issues for hearing, including a patently deficient mine permit, the DEQ's inability ot remedy deficiencies through a permit condition, the application not include all facilities, haul roads and traffic plans for the haul roads, inaccuracy in estimating the amount of coal that will be mined and lack of identification of the coal mine operator.
The dismissed appeal marks the mine’s final roadblock before development.
Following its approval this summer, DEQ Director Todd Parfitt praised the “incredible amount of time and effort” put into ensuring the permit had sound environmental and quality of life protections.
PRBRC is the only group to oppose the mine.
"We want to thank the Environmental Quality Council commissioners for unanimously recognizing Powder River’s right to participate in today’s proceeding and represent our members who are impacted by this mine," said Marcia Westkott, Powder River Basin Resource Council chair. "We are disappointed in regard to the council’s decision to allow DEQ’s decision on the Brook Mine permit to proceed. We had hoped that solid science surrounding the risk of ground cave ins or subsidence issues would be acknowledged and that the state would agree that the company needs to provide a better overall plan for this serious issue. However, we will continue to be involved with this mine permit and work to ensure proper oversight and that the company abides by the 12 conditions the Wyoming DEQ set for the permit. We also call on the DEQ to protect the health and safety of the Tongue River Valley and its inhabitants.”
Ramaco Carbon CEO Randall Atkins said the company is delighted the EQC brought this almost decade-long permit odyssey to an end.
"We salute the professionalism of the DEQ, and look forward to going to work developing our coal-to-products technology platform," Atkins said after the ruling.