For immediate release
December 4, 2018
New Horizon Mine workforce to be reduced as mine reaches milestones in reclamation effort
• Major earth moving and revegetation activities have been completed
• United Mine Workers of America employees will receive benefits agreed to between Tri-State and their union representatives
Employees of the New Horizon Mine and the United Mine Workers of America were notified today of staffing reductions required as mine reclamation workforce requirements change following the completion of major earthmoving and revegetation activities. The mine, which is located in Nucla, Colorado, and owned and operated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, ceased coal mining and begin reclamation activities in June 2017.
Staffing levels will be reduced in late January 2019 as the need for on-site work decreases. The mine currently employs 19 people. The mine will retain four employees to complete the necessary administrative and permitting processes with the goal to have reclamation bonds released in the next 10-15 years.
“Our employees have always been faithful stewards of the land, and have safely and steadily made progress in the reclamation of the mine,” said Tri-State Chief Executive Officer Mike McInnes. “Working with our employee representatives and the United Mine Workers of America, we have a fair agreement in place to support the transition of employees from the mine.”
In anticipation of workforce reductions and to help employees with the transition to reclamation and eventual facility closing, in 2017, Tri-State negotiated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with representatives and members of the United Mine Workers of America that has been in place as the mine stopped coal extraction and proceeded into the reclamation process.
“We have been open with our employees about the transition and eventual need to reduce our workforce,” said McInnes. “We believe it is best to make the announcement as soon as possible so employees have time to plan, and to provide employees the support they and their families need.”
The terms of the MOU have included severance payments, medical benefits, and education assistance for existing employees, as well as a range of options to sever employment or continue working to support the reclamation process. Several employees have already resigned, retired early or relocated to another Tri-State facility.
Additionally, in February 2018 Tri-State and the Montrose Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced the creation of a block grant designed to improve the financial stability of local businesses, expand entrepreneurial opportunities and increase economic vitality in the West End of Montrose County. The grant was funded by Tri-State and is being administered by MEDC. Grants supporting child daycare and tourism in Nucla and Naturita were awarded in June.
In September 2016, Tri-State announced the mine and the 100-megawatt Nucla Station, which received coal from the mine, would be retired as part of an agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, WildEarth Guardians and the National Parks Conservation Association to propose revisions to the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP). Nucla Station will be retired by December 31, 2022. The revised SIP was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January 2018.
The decision to end mining operations was driven by several factors, including the amount of coal currently available at Nucla Station and the cost of producing additional coal at New Horizon Mine compared to other lower-cost energy options available to Tri-State. Nucla Station remains in a “ready to run” status.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., is the wholesale power supplier, operating on a not-for-profit basis, to 43 electric cooperatives and public power districts that serve more than one million consumers throughout nearly 200,000 square-miles of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Lee A. Boughey
Sr. Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.