Holcim Cement company has been allowed to reopen a gypsum quarry near Coaldale in order to provide materials for the company’s cement plant between Florence and Penrose.
Fremont County commissioners gave initial approval Tuesday to allowing Holcim Cement to reopen a gypsum quarry in Coaldale - despite the opposition of nearby residents.
The commission voted 2-1 in favor of the permit, with Commissioner Mike Stiehl casting the lone dissenting vote, saying he felt quarrying was not compatible with the agriculture zone of the neighborhood.
Commissioners Ed Norden and Larry Lasha voted in favor of the permit, pending conditions to be decided at the commissioners’ next meeting.
Holcim operates its cement plant between Florence and Penrose on Colorado 120. The company uses gypsum as part of the cement-making process, so it purchased the inactive gypsum quarry last year.
The Coaldale Gypsum Quarry is located a little more than a half-mile south of the intersection of U.S. 50 and County Road 6, which is also known as the Hayden Creek Road.
The property was mined from 1907 until 1990, when operations ceased. The property is 494 acres, of which 90 acres will make up the operation area.
The quarry will use strip mining and about 15 percent of the site, which had been reclaimed from previous mining operations, will be re-quarried. Holcim plans to mine 50,000 tons of gypsum per year, according to Mike Toelle, Holcim’s raw materials manager.
"It will not be that big of an operation, significantly smaller than it used to be when 250,000 tons were mined (annually)," Toelle said. "We plan to limit operation to six months per year."
Toelle estimated there will be 20 trips per day to and from the site, as trucks haul the gypsum to U.S. 50 then on to the cement plant.
The anticipated life of the mine is 32 years.
Coaldale resident Bob Parker said 50,000 tons a year over 32 years will equal 1.6 million tons and said transportation by trucks will add to air pollution on an already dusty road.
"County Road 6 is Coaldale’s Main Street. The trucks will pass the cemetery, the community building, the health clinic and the fire station," Parker said.
"At the County Road 45 intersection, there needs to be a three-way stop - that would be far safer," Parker said, as would merge and turn lanes on U.S.50.
Fremont County Assessor Stacey Seifert told the commission the mine would generate $2,200 to $2,500 in production taxes above the $9,105 in property taxes the company paid on the mine this year.
Fremont Economic Development Corp. Director Bruce Redus said the operation will provide primary jobs and that Holcim has proven to be a good neighbour in Fremont County.