Gypsum mine expansion would secure reserves for more than 50 years |

Gypsum mine expansion would secure reserves for more than 50 years

BLM accepting public comment regarding American Gypsum Products expansion proposal

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced it had approved a 100-acre expansion of the Eagle-Gypsum Mine. The American Gypsum Products mine, located two miles north of Gypsum, is the largest gypsum mine in Colorado .
Daily file photo

Open House for gypsum mine expansion

What: The BLM will host a public open house in the town of Gypsum to provide additional information, answer questions and take written comments regarding American Gypsum Company's planned gypsum mine expansion. When: Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Where: Gypsum Recreation Center

GYPSUM — Gypsum is the mineral that gave the town its name and the resource that brought in the town’s biggest employer.

Now American Gypsum Company has submitted a gypsum mining permit expansion to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to secure mining reserves for several decades.

Earlier this month, the BLM announced it was seeking public comment on American Gypsum Company’s proposal to expand its current mine, located north of Gypsum. The bureau opened a 30-day public comment period on the proposal.

According to the official BLM announcement, American Gypsum’s current gypsum mining permit area is 830 acres, with a current surface disturbance at about 191 acres. The proposal would increase both the permit area and surface disturbance by about 100 acres.

But those numbers are a bit deceiving, said American Gypsum Company Plant Manager Chuck Zaruba.

“Though we have a lot of land, the amount of it that contains quality gypsum resources is kind of limited,” he said.

But the impact of the 100-acre expansion is substantial.

“The current mine reserves, under the previously approved mine plan, are at 20 years at the plant’s current production rate, which is roughly a six-day-per week operation,” Zaruba said. “The pending mine expansion has a little over 40 years of additional reserves associated with it, which would take our total reserves to roughly 60 years.”

“Business levels obviously drive that lifetime up or down,” Zaruba continued, “but even at full 24/7 production we would be looking at almost 50 years of reserves all told.”

Colorado’s biggest

The American Gypsum operation, located two miles north of town, is Colorado’s largest gypsum mine. According to BLM Public Affairs Specialist Kate Miyamoto, the mining permit dates back to 1984.

According to Zaruba, a company called Eagle Gypsum Products opened the drywall plant in 1989. A few years later a company called Centrix took over the plant operation and then American Gypsum purchased the property in 1999. American Gypsum employs 100 people full-time between its mining and plant operations.

“The plan makes roughly 2 million square feet of product each day,” said Zaruba. That translates into the production of a half-billion square feet of drywall annually.

As part of its operation, Zaruba noted the plant pays federal, state and local taxes, licensing and regulatory fees and mining permit fees.

“Responsible mineral development is part of BLM’s multiple-use mission,” said BLM Colorado River Valley Field Manager Larry Sandoval. “The current mine has been in operation since 1984 and is an important contributor to the local economy.”

Miyamoto noted public input helps the BLM identify issues or concerns specific to the proposed expansion that will help guide the environmental analysis. The most useful comments contain technical or scientific information, identify issues or concerns relevant to the proposal, or provide technical or scientific rationale for opinions. The proposed Plan of Operation Modification, maps, and information about how to comment, are available at Comments must be received by Thursday, Feb. 6.

Before submitting a comment, include an address, phone number, email address, or other personally-identifying information. Anyone submitting comments should be aware that the entire communication — including personal identifying information — may be made publicly available.

“While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so,” Miyamoto said.

Support Local Journalism