SALT LAKE CITY — A huge coal tract in central Utah that survived a federal three-year moratorium on any new coal leasing drew a sealed bid of nearly $23 million in a lease sale Wednesday.
The Greens Hollow tract in Sevier and Sanpete counties is nearly 6,200 acres of national forest land with estimated coal reserves of about 56 million tons. Coal on federal land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which held the sale after a federal appeals board rejected a challenge by environmental groups.
The winning bidder was Canyon Fuels Co., which operates the nearby Sufco Mine — Utah's largest coal mine. Canyon Fuels is owned by Bowie Resources.
Although the results are preliminary, the successful lease sale of the coal reserves means Sufco, which has other federal leases, can expand and continue operations for years to come. Sufco is one of the nation's longest continuously running longwall mines in the country.
An environmental analysis said the Greens Hollow tract will extend the life of the mine by nine years.
Any new federal coal leasing was put on a three-year pause last year by the Obama administration while the Interior Department conducts a review of multiple facets of the program, including whether taxpayers get a fair return on the leases.
The moratorium, however, exempted leases that had already gone through the environmental review process.