Importance of Coal Production in New Mexico
Coal production has played a significant role in the economic development of New Mexico beginning in the 1850s and continuing to the present. It is one of the four mineral fuels produced in New Mexico, ranking third in value behind natural gas (including coalbed methane) and crude oil. Coal resources underlie 12 percent (14.6 million acres) of the state's total area. Most of the coal is in northern New Mexico, primarily in the San Juan and Raton basins. Several minor coal fields outside these basins have had significant production in the past, and some that may become important in the future, in particular for coalbed methane production. Today, 46% of the state's total energy needs are met through power generated from coal.
Coal is an important contribution to New Mexico's state budget, the third largest source of revenues from mineral and energy production. Tax revenues severance, resources excise, and conservation taxes, and royalties from coal on state land were $30.7 million in 2001. New Mexico also receives 50% of the royalties collected on federal lands totaling $12.3 million in 2001. The coal industry directly employed 1,800 people in 2001 adding to the general economy of the State (Pfeil, 2002). Presently there are five operating coal mines in New Mexico, four surface and one underground operation. These mines produced 30.53 million tons in 2001, making New Mexico12th in the nation for coal production. For more information on coal and electric generation in New Mexico see Decision Makers guidebook 2002
The NMBGMR coal program emphasizes the following:
- Evaluation of New Mexicos coal resources. The New Mexico Bureau of Geology has been involved in a long-term project to collect and evaluate data in all coal-bearing areas of New Mexico. Cooperative funding through the U.S. Geological Survey to enter data into the National Coal Resource Data System is in its 23rd year. Because of this project, computerized coal databases with coal thickness and coal quality data reside at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology. In the past, coal mapping and coal drilling projects at the Bureau have increased the knowledge and data available for many coal areas in the state. This information has been published in New Mexico Bureau of Geology Bulletins, Geologic Maps and Open-file reports.
- Researching historical coal data. Historical data on coal mines is important in determining remaining reserves in coal areas and determining areas that have been mined out in productive areas. Investigations have resulted in a compilation of historic production data by county and by mines from New Mexico Territorial and State Mine Inspectors reports, and mine location maps. This information is housed at the Bureau in computerized databases and on 7.5-min. topographic maps. The Bureau has acquired several mine maps that are kept as archival material. This information is available to the public unless the data was acquired from a company with the request it remains confidential.
- Detailed Research in producing coal fields and those with economic potential in the near future. The present effort involves the use of Geographic Information Systems to evaluate the resources in a small area and apply technological and environmental restrictions. Point-source data for coal thickness and quality for these studies comes from computerized databases. The U.S. Geological Survey is funding these studies. The first detailed study was in the Bisti (Fruitland Formation) coal field in the northwest San Juan Basin. The results of this study are published in Bureau Open-file Report 438 (Hoffman and Jones, 1998). Three other studies, two in the Menefee Formation and one additional study in the Fruitland Formation have been completed and published, mainly through the Open-file series.
Hoffman, G.K., and Jones, G.E., 1998, Availability of coal resources in the Fruitland Formation, San Juan Basin, northwest New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Open-file report 438, 15 pp.
Pfeil, J., 2002, New Mexico Resources 2002: New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, pp. 2, 13-18.
The New Mexico Bureau of Mines has an established computerized coal-database for the major coal-bearing sequences and coal areas in the state. Several files contain information on a point-source basis for coal depth and thickness, chemical analyses, and a limited number of petrographic analyses. The coal depth and thickness databases include both surface-minable and deep-coal information. Both the coal thickness and quality files have been used by several researchers to evaluate the resources of the different coal fields and coal-bearing formations in New Mexico. Searches for data from these files can be made upon request.
From these resource data, total-coal and total-depth figures for each location have been plotted on 1:100,000 scale maps along with the contacts of coal-bearing units for the San Juan Basin. These maps, with information about each plotted data point and references for the geologic-map compilation, have been stored as NMBGMR Open-File Reports 353 and 369.
The NMBGMR maintains other computerized coal-data files on past mining and coal production. Coal has been mined in New Mexico since the 1880s and there were many producing underground coal mines from the 1880s until the 1950s, mainly in the San Juan and Raton basins. Data compiled on these mines from the Abandoned Mine Lands Program, Territorial and State Mine Inspector reports, and other published reports are available in a computerized database for each county.
Past coal production is important for historical purposes and in evaluating remaining resources in a coal area. Production data from Territorial and State Mine Inspectors reports by county and mine as well as statewide production is available in a spreadsheet format. The coal production and value by county and coal field is also available in a computerized spreadsheet. Department of Energy production figures from 1977 to the present are available in a separate database. Production data prior to1977 are available but have not been computerized
A coal bibliography of New Mexico is computerized. This annotated bibliographic database includes 1650 references dating from 1848 to 2000. Searches by area of interest can be done upon request.
Recently a coal library at the New Mexico Bureau of mines was established to store geophysical logs, chemical analyses, maps, and reports from coal exploration projects in New Mexico. For more than 25 years, the NMBGMR has collected coal data for various studies done by staff members, developing an extensive collection of coal data, including over 3200 geophysical logs donated by Mobil from their Crownpoint uranium project. Much of the remaining geophysical log collection is from the San Juan Basin and the northwest quadrant of New Mexico (2220 geophysical logs). Some data are available from the other coal fields, such as the Salt Lake, Sierra Blanca, Rio Puerco, Cerrillos, and Sierra Blanca fields. Very little geophysical data is available for the Raton coal field, but core data is available from this area. Computerized searches by township and range can be done upon request for log data.
Additionally, a three-year coal quality study done by the NMBGMR generated a large set of coal data, including geophysical logs, cuttings and core descriptions, and chemical analyses. These data are available through Open-file report 373A-AA.
The Bureau has also acquired maps from many coal projects, predominantly from the northwest quadrant of the state, done by industry and government. Although the maps are not in a computerized database, they are catalogued and copies can be made of requested material
- M-25 - Strippable low-sulfur coal resources of the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and Colorado, compiled and edited by J. W. Shomaker, E.C. Beaumont, and F. E. Kottlowski, 1971, reprinted 1976, 189 p. $13.50
- B-111 - One hundred years of coal mining in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, 1988, by Nickelson, H. B., 226 p. $22.00
- B-112 - Palynology and age of South Hospah coal-bearing deposits, McKinley County, New Mexico, by A. Jameossanaie, 1987, 65 p. $7.50
- B-121 - Coal deposits and facies changes along the southwestern margin of the Late Cretaceous seaway, west-central New Mexico, compiled by G. H. Roybal, O. J. Anderson, and E. C. Beaumont, 1987, 83 p. $11.50
- B-141 - Quality assessment of strippable coals in northwestern New Mexico: Fruitland, Menefee, and Crevasse Canyon Formation coals in San Juan Basin, and Moreno Hill Formation coals in Salt Lake field, by G. K. Hoffman, F. W. Campbell, and E. C. Beaumont, 1993, 84 p. $12.00
- C-180 - Contributions to mid-Cretaceous paleontology and stratigraphy of New Mexico, compiled by S. C. Hook, 1981, 35 p. $6.25
- C-181 - New Mexico's energy resources '80 - annual report of Bureau of Geology in the Mining and Minerals Division of New Mexico Energy and Minerals Department, compiled by E. C. Arnold and J. M. Hill, 1981, 59 p. $5.25
- C-185 - Contributions to mid-Cretaceous paleontology and stratigraphy of New Mexico, part II, compiled by S. C. Hook, 1983, 54 p. $12.50
- GM-49 - Coal geology of Torreon Wash area, southeast San Juan Basin, New Mexico, by D. E. Tabet and S. J. Frost, 1979, 3 sheets, text, scale 1:24,000. $8.50
- GM-61 - Geology and coal resources of Atarque Lake 1:50,000 quadrangle, New Mexico (NW quadrant of Fence Lake 1:100,000 sheet), by O. J. Anderson, 1987, 2 sheets, scale 1:50,000. $7.50
- GM-62 - Geology and coal resources of Fence Lake 1:50,000 quadrangle, New Mexico (SW quadrant of Fence Lake 1:100,000 sheet), by F. Campbell, 1989, 2 sheets, scale 1:50,000. $7.00
- GM-64 - Geology and coal resources of Vanderwagen quadrangle, McKinley County, New Mexico, by O. J. Anderson, 1990, scale 1:24,000. $6.00
- RM-19 - Distribution of near-surface coal deposits in San Juan Basin, New Mexico, by E. C. Beaumont, 1998, 2 sheets, scale 1: 250,000. $20.00
- RM-20 - Coal resources of New Mexico, by G. K. Hoffman, 1996, 22-page text, 1 sheet, scale 1:1,000,000. $7.50
- OF-142 - Geology and coal resources of the Cantaralo Spring 7.5' quadrangle, Cibola County, New Mexico,1981, by Anderson, O. J.,1:24,000 scale, 2 maps, 16 p. $6.20.
- OF-143 - Geology and coal resources of the Twentytwo Spring 7.5' quadrangle, Catron and Cibola Counties, New Mexico, 1982, by Anderson, O. J.; Frost, S. J., 1:24,000 scale, 1 map, 6 p. $2.70
- OF-144 - Geology and coal resources of Cerro Prieto and The Dyke quadrangles, 1891, by Campbell, F.W., 1981, 1:24,000 scale, 2 maps, 68 p. $18.10
- OF-145 - Stratigraphic sequence in drilling data from the Fence Lake area, 1981, by Roybal, G.H., and Campbell, F.W., 63 p. 11 maps. $30.60
- OF-154 -Geology and coal resources of the Pinehaven quadrangle, 1981, by Tabet, D. E., 1:24,000 scale, 5 maps, 71 p. $23.20.
- OF-160 - Geology and coal resources of the Alamo Band Reservation, Socorro County, New Mexico, 1982, by Osburn, J. C., 1:24,000 scale, 2 maps, 64 p. $17.30.
- OF-163 - Geology and coal resources of the Venadito Camp quadrangle, Cibola County, New Mexico, 1982, by Anderson, O. J., 1:24,000 scale, 1 map, 30 p.$9.00
- OF-164 - Geology and coal resources of three quadrangles in the central Datil Mountains coal field, Socorro County, New Mexico, 1982, by Osburn, J. C., 1:24,000 scale, 6 maps, 82 p. $26.90.
- OF-167 - Geology and coal resources of the Atarque Lake quadrangle, Cibola County, New Mexico, 1982, revised 1983, by Anderson, O. J., 1:24,000 scale, 1 map. 28 pp.$7.10.
- OF-171 - Geology and coal resources of Mesita de Yeso quadrangle, Cibola County, New Mexico, 1982, by Anderson, O. J., 1:24,000 scale,1 map, 34 p.$9.80.
- OF-172 - Geology and coal resources of Shoemaker Canyon SE quadrangle, Cibola County, New Mexico, 1983, by Anderson, O. J.; Mapel, W. J., 1:24,000 scale,1 map, 34 p. $9.80.
- OF-178 - Geology and coal resources of the Tejana Mesa quadrangle, Catron County, New Mexico, 1982, by Roybal, G. H., 1:24,000 scale,1 map, 38 p.$10.60.
- OF-179 - Preliminary evaluation of the mineral resource potential of the Sierra Ladrones Wilderness Study area, Socorro County, New Mexico,1982, by Chamberlin, R.M., Logsdon, M.J., Eveleth, R.W., Bieberman, R.A., Roybal, G.H., Osburn, J.C., North, R.M., McLemore, V.T., and Weber, R.H., 8 maps, 193 p.$41.30.
- OF-182 - Geology and coal resources of Pasture Canyon quadrangle, Catron County, New Mexico, 1983, by Osburn, J. C., 1:24,000 scale,1 map. 27 p.$6.90.
- OF-188 - Identification of alluvial valley floors in strippable coal areas of New Mexico, 1981, by Love, D.W.; Hawley, J. W.; Hobbs, T. C., 40 p.$17.00.
- OF-207 - Geology and coal resources of the Fence Lake 1:50,000 quadrangle, Catron and Cibola Counties, New Mexico, 1984, by Campbell, F. W.; Roybal, G. H.,37 p.$11.90.
- OF-211 - Preliminary report on the geology and mineral resource potential of northern Rio Puerco resource area in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties and adjacent parts of McKinley, Cibola, and Santa Fe Counties,1984, by McLemore, V.T., Roybal, G.H., Broadhead, R.F., Chamberlin, R.M., North, R.M., Osburn, J.C., Arkell, B.W., Colpitts, R.M., Bowie, M.R., Anderson, K., Barker, J.M., and Campbell, F.W, 54 maps, 817 p. $278.90. (sections may be ordered separately)
- OF-221 - Geology and coal resources of the Techado quadrangle, Catron and Cibola Counties, New Mexico, 1984, by Arkell, B. W., 1:24,000 scale, 24 p.$7.80.
- OF-227 - Geology and coal resources of Wild Horse Canyon quadrangle, Catron and Cibola Counties, New Mexico, 1985, by Osburn, J. C., 1:24,000 scale, 2 maps, 29 p.$8.80.
- OF-230 - A preliminary mineral-resource potential of Cibola County, Northwestern New Mexico, 1986, by McLemore, V.T., Broadhead, R.F., Roybal, G.H., Chenowith, W.L., Barker, J.M., North, R.M., Bowie, M.R., Hingtgen, J.S., Murray, D., Klein, K., Brown, K.B., and Austin, G.S., 33 maps, 403 p. $131.60. (sections may be ordered separately)
- OF-231 - A preliminary mineral resource potential of McKinley County, Northwestern New Mexico,1986, by McLemore, V.T., Roybal, G.H., Birdsall, K., Broadhead, R.F., Chenowith, W.L., North, R.M., Barker, J.M., Copeland, P., Bowie, M.R., Hingtgen, J.S., Brown, K.B., Klein, K., 47 maps, 691 p. $210.20. (sections can be ordered separately)
- OF-232 - A preliminary mineral-resource potential of San Juan County, northwestern New Mexico,1986, by McLemore, V.T., Broadhead, R.F., Cook, K., Chenowith W.L., Barker, J.M., Roybal, G.H., North, R.M., Copeland, P., Bowie, M.R., Hingten, J.S., Klein, E., and Brown, K.B., $225.00 (sections can be ordered separately)
- OF-254 - Cretaceous rocks and coal resources of the Magdalena, New Mexico, 1:100,000 sheet, 1986, by Osburn, J. C.,1:24,000 scale, 8 p.$3.10.
- OF-326 - Geology and coal resources of the Mariano Springs quadrangle, Catron 7, by Cook, K. H.; Arkell, B., 1:24,000 scale, 2 maps, 18 p.$6.60.
- OF-363 - Coal-bearing formations and available coal data in the western San Juan Basin, on the Chaco Canyon, Chacra Mesa, Farmington, Gallup, Grants, Toadlena, and Zuni 1:100,000 quadrangles, 1990, by Hoffman, G.K., 57 p.$48.90.
- OF-369 - Coal-bearing formations and available coal data in the eastern and southern San Juan Basin on the Navajo Reservoir, Chama, Abiquiu, Los Alamos, Albuquerque, Acoma Pueblo and Fence Lake 1:100,000 quadrangles, 1990, by Hoffman, G.K., 22 pp., 14 sheets. $25.40.
- OF-373A-AA - Quality assessment of strippable coals in northwest New Mexico: Drilling data, chemical and petrographic analyses for the Fruitland, Menefee, Crevasse Canyon, and Moreno Hill formations, 1991, Hoffman, G.K, 1,614 p.(sold by section).
- OF-427 - Influence of depositional environment on clay mineralogy in the coal-bearing lower Moreno Hill Formation, Salt Lake coal field, west-central New Mexico, 1996, by Hoffman, G.K., 21 p.$4.00
- OF-428 - Demonstrated reserve base for coal in New Mexico, modified from final report for cooperative agreement DE-FC0193EI23974,1996, Hoffman, G.K, 89 pp., 2 appendices.
- OF-438 - Availability of coal resources in the Fruitland Formation, San Juan Basin, northwest New Mexico, 1998, Hoffman, G.K., and Jones, G.E.,15 pp.$6.90
- OF-457 - Coal Availability Study-Upper Menefee Formation in the Chacra Mesa, La Ventana fields, Northwest New Mexico, 2001, Hoffman G.K. and Jones, G.E., 16 p. 1 appendix. $10.00
- OF-464 - Coal Availability Study- Fruitland Formation in the Fruitland and Navajo fields, Northwest New Mexico, 2001, Hoffman, G.K., and Jones, G.E., 33 p. 1 appendix. $10.00
Non-technical articles and publications
- Hoffman, G.K., Fall 1993, Dawson, a town dependent on coal; in Lite Geology: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, 4 p.
- Hoffman, G.K., Winter 1994, Have you ever wondered about coal?; in Lite Geology: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, p. 2-5, 9-10.
- Hoffman, G.K., Spring 1995, Have you ever wondered about coal mining?; in Lite Geology: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, p. 2-9.
- New Mexico's Energy, Present and Future: Policy, Production, Economics, and the Environment, 2002, eds., B.S. Brister, and L. Greer Price, Chapter 3 Coal Energy and Electric Generation, p. 65-94.
For prices and ordering information for the publications listed above, see our publications page.