In 2011, Colorado was ranked 9th in U.S. coal production. There are currently three surface mines and eight underground mines located in Colorado near Trinidad, Steamboat Springs, Craig, Rangely, Paonia, Nucla, and Durango. These mines collectively produce about 27 million tons of coal annually. Colorado coal is mostly bituminous and sub-bituminous, and is characterized as a high heat content, low sulfur, low to medium ash, and low mercury coal. To view our 2005 RockTalk Newsletter on Colorado Coal, click here. To view our Annual Reports (2003 through 2007, and 2015) on activities in the coal industry, click here.
Coal provides the fuel to generate about 68 percent of Colorado’s electricity. It currently provides the ‘base-load’ fuel source for most of today’s electrical needs.At current growth and consumption rates Colorado’s mineable coal could supply it’s economy for over 259 years. However, growing world demand for energy over the next 25 years is predicted to increase fossil fuel consumption by 60 percent, so Colorado coal may be in higher demand to other states and foreign exports. Currently, Colorado mines ship coal to 24 other states and to Mexico and Europe.
Pictured right: Underground coal mined near Paonia is stored at the surface before being loaded onto trains.