Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Director John Baza received the 2023 Service Award from the Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI)

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EGI Operations Manager Al Walker presents John Baza with the EGI Service Award.

Mr. Baza has been the director since 2005 and administers the division’s efforts in the areas of petroleum, coal mining, and mineral mining, along with abandoned mine reclamation.

In addition to his responsibilities as director, he also serves as the Official Representative for Governor Spencer Cox of Utah on both the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). He is also a state representative on the national Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), and he currently serves on the Board of GWPC, having been elected by his peers to Board membership in 2015.

Castle Country Energy Field Tour

The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Utah Petroleum Association, and Emery and Carbon counties hosted a legislative tour sponsored by Senator Hinkins on August 2 to educate legislators and elected officials on the current status and opportunities of energy resources in the area. The trip included tours of the San Rafael Energy Research Center and Hunter Power Plant in Emery County. Additional presentations were provided by the division’s Coal, Oil and Gas, and Abandoned Mine Reclamation programs.

Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project Completed in Eureka

EUREKA, Utah –  The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (AMRP) staff recently oversaw the closure of 56 abandoned mine openings on private land near Eureka in the Tintic Mining District in Utah County. The project included the Tintic Standard Mine No. 2, the mine shaft where the bodies of Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and Riley Powell were recovered in 2018.

“The area is private property, but easily accessible and close to popular off-highway vehicle trails,” said AMRP Manager Steve Fluke. “Safeguarding these mines ensures that future risks are minimized or eliminated, improving public safety. Closure methods, including backfills, rebar grates, walls and polyurethane foam, were selected to protect features of historical significance and animal habitats while protecting public safety.”

The Tintic Mining District has a rich mining history dating back to the late 19th century. It experienced a significant boom during the late 1800s and early 1900s, with numerous mines and mining towns in the area. At its peak, the district was one of Utah’s most important mining regions and played a crucial role in the state’s economic development.

Today there are an estimated 17,000 abandoned mine openings scattered across Utah. Since the AMRP began in 1983, approximately 7,000 openings have been closed. When mines were no longer producing, they were often abandoned, leaving equipment, open shafts, tunnels and piles of waste rock. In 1975, the Utah Mined Reclamation Act was passed, making it illegal for mines to be abandoned. 

The AMRP protects the public from the dangers of old mines by sealing off access to openings and cleaning up waste. Old mining sites can contain dangerous gases, unstable structures, and explosives. For more information on the AMRP, visit ogm.utah.gov/amr/index.php.