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Open-file Report - 540
Coal availability study - Standing Rock Area, San Juan Basin northwest New Mexico

Gretchen K. Hoffman and Glen E. Jones

2011

Coal is an important part of New Mexico’s economy and contributes substantially to the state’s educational funds through royalties and taxes. New Mexico produced 28.24 million st of coal in 1998, ranking 13th in the nation. Of this total, 11.71 million st (> 41%) is produced from the Lee Ranch and McKinley mines, both extracting coal from the Menefee Formation. Twothirds of the state’s tonnage is delivered to three electrical generating stations in New Mexico. All but a small portion of the remaining production is shipped by rail to generating stations in Arizona. The Lee Ranch and McKinley mines are the only mines in New Mexico with the rail spurs to the main Burlington Northern-Santa Fe line, allowing them to ship coal to Arizona. Lee Ranch delivers coal to nearby Escalante Generating Station at Prewitt, NM. McKinley sends coal to Salt River Project’s Coronado generating station and Tucson Electric’s Springerville power plant near Springerville, AZ, and to Arizona Public Service Cholla plant, near St. Johns, AZ.

With the above economic and geologic factors considered, four quadrangles on the southeast edge of the Standing Rock field were chosen for this study. The four 7.5 minute quadrangles chosen for this study are the Seven Lakes, Kin Nahzin Ruins, Laguna Castillo, and Orphan Annie Rock. This 350-sq mi area along the Menefee outcrop has economic potential because of it proximity to the existing railroad spur and for the quality of the coals. The northern extent of the Lee Ranch coal mine is approximately 10 miles southeast of the study area and the South Hospah lease area (Texas Utilities-Chaco Energy) is within the study area. There is no previous coal production from this area.

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