Campus News - September 4, 2001

OCA wins contract for mine project

The UNM Office of Contract Archeology (OCA) has been awarded a contract from the Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP) to conduct a historical overview of historic properties within the proposed Fence Lake Coal Mine Project 14 miles north of Quemado in western New Mexico.

SRP plans to dig about 80 million tons of low-sulfur coal during the next 50 years. The area covers 18,000 acres in a permit area that covers both Catron and Cibola counties.

Dr. Patrick Hogan, OCA senior research scientist, will direct the historical overview project. Hogan has extensive experience in prehistoric and historic cultural resource projects, including previous work at the proposed Fence Lake Mine area.

Project manager Bob Barnard said the Fence Lake Mine will bring more than 200 new jobs -- more than 100 of those during the construction of the mine and the 43-mile railroad line that will transport the coal to SRP’s Coronado Generating Station near St. Johns, Ariz. He said New Mexico will receive about $60 million in taxes paid and $60-70 million in royalties from the new mine.

The royalties will go directly to the New Mexico Education Trust Fund, Barnard said.

The Associated Press reports that Zuni Pueblo leaders fear the proposed mine will dry up the Zuni Salt Lake, a sacred site on pueblo land about 12 miles from the proposed site.

Established in 1973, the OCA plays a leading role in cultural resource studies in New Mexico and neighboring states.

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