The Interior Department last week ruled that Oxbow Mining, a subsidiary of Koch-controlled Oxbow Carbon LLC, is not entitled to a ‘royalty rate reduction’ since the move would do nothing to return the mine to life.
Reducing royalty rates has been a tool used by the federal government for decades when maximizing coal production was part of a national energy policy.
Oxbow closed its Elk Creek site in western Colorado two years ago after setbacks such as a fire and partial collapse made working the underground mine too costly, according to the company and regulatory paperwork.
Oxbow has said it has no plans to reopen the facility, which once employed more than 200 people. Machinery is being sold for scrap and the mine is ready to be sealed, according to regulatory paperwork.
The Obama administration has rejected a plea by billionaire investor William Koch to refund as much as $14 million in royalties on a now-shut Colorado mine, according to a letter explaining the decision.