Kim Coburn has been a reclamation specialist with the Minerals Program since 2018. She is a mine inspector ensuring operators mine within the permit boundaries and follow applicable rules. She is skilled in geographic information systems (GIS) and uses her knowledge to obtain accurate boundary maps to confirm operators have accurate bonds, which protects the state from operator liability. Kim assists the Minerals team with mapping, bonding, and hydrology reviews. She is a wealth of knowledge and respected by staff as a go-to person. Her favorite part about her job is the opportunity to travel throughout the state and seeing gorgeous and unique areas. 

Kim Coburn

Kim is a licensed professional Civil Engineer and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering with a minor in astrophysics from the University of Toledo. Prior to her employment with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, she was a consultant focusing on municipal engineering where she learned mapping software and project management. 

When Kim isn’t working, she enjoys exploring with her husband and two dogs. Recently, she’s ventured into the world of kayaking.


While this past year presented us all with challenges and unforeseen circumstances, Division staff moved forward completing projects and adapting to new ways of doing business. Below are a few of the highlights from 2020.

Coal Program

Coal Program staff helped coal operators navigate the regulatory path nimbly and efficiently to continue their work. Skyline Mine operators determined that additional power was required for continued operations of their long wall miner. A corridor had previously been approved, however a larger corridor for the above ground powerline was needed, requiring additional permitting. Due to time constraints with the onset of winter, staff worked closely with the operator to get the additional permitting finalized so the powerline corridor could be completed.

50’ power corridor 

Deer Creek Mine
Reclamation of the Deer Creek mine was completed in late 2019. During 2020 spring runoff, several rills and gullies began to form on the reclaimed slopes. The operator and program staff immediately mobilized to the site and began working through the regulatory issues associated with repairing the erosion. A rogue culvert unknown during the operation of the Deer Creek Mine was identified as the issue. On-site field visits and conference calls with federal agencies were conducted to address regulatory issues and allow the operator to continue repair work before winter.

Deer Creek reclaimed slope with gully visible
Deer Creek rogue culvert

Minerals Program

Lisbon Valley Mine

On March 20, Division staff was notified that operations at the Lisbon Valley Mine in southeastern Utah had shut down. The Division subsequently issued an order for final reclamation to be complete by September 30, 2021. Over the next several months program staff spent many hours overseeing reclamation operations and reviewing the mine plan and reclamation cost estimate. In January 2021, the operator submitted an adequate bond and obtained Division approval to re-start operations. 

Rock art at Benjamin Quarry

In December 2019, staff issued tentative approval of the revised Notice of Intention (NOI) for the Benjamin Quarry in Utah County. This decision was appealed informally to the Division by concerned area residents and then formally to the Board of Oil, Gas and Mining, which upheld the Division’s decision to approve the NOI with certain conditions. One issue of the appeal included the concern for petroglyphs around the mine.

Staff continue using tablets to record inspections and are working to expand the efficiencies by developing an inspection prioritization application. The tablets help inspectors keep track of inspection frequency, which is a major aspect of determining inspection scheduling.

Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program

Despite a slow and unusual start to the construction season due to the uncertainties presented
by COVID, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (AMRP) completed two coal and six
non-coal abandoned mine reclamation projects this year.

Hiawatha Culvert before

Coal reclamation consisted of the Clear Creek Refuse Reclamation Project and the Hiawatha Culvert Maintenance Project located in Carbon County. Non-coal projects closed a total of 170 hazardous abandoned mines and completed maintenance at 30 previously closed mine openings. Projects included the completion of the Spor Project in Juab County that began in the fall of 2019, the White and Deer Flat Project in San Juan County, Phase I of the Willard Peak Project in Weber County, the Westdip Bat Cupola Project in Tooele County, and the Buckmaster-OIG Project in Emery County. Maintenance projects included the Jacob City Maintenance Project in Tooele County, and the Temple Mountain Maintenance Project in Emery County.

Hiawatha Culvert after

The Hiawatha Culvert Maintenance Project was located about 14 miles southwest of Price at the historic Hiawatha mine. In 1914 mine operators built a culvert over a stretch of Miller Creek to accommodate a road crossing. The 200-foot culvert is constructed of large sandstone blocks and features a rare and striking barrel vault top exhibiting fine craftsmanship representative of the Italian and Greek immigrant stonemasonry of the early 20th century.

In 2012, the Seeley forest fire destroyed much of the vegetation on the Wasatch Plateau above Hiawatha.  As a result, storms washed trees and rock debris down the watershed. Flooding washed out extensive portions of the century-old culvert walls and AMRP staff feared that the unsupported block culvert walls would collapse into the creek.  At best, this would dump sediment in the creek; at worst, the creek could be dammed and risk a catastrophic flood event  Besides losing a remarkable cultural feature and road access across the creek, structural failure of the culvert would have a significant effect on water quality and downstream fisheries.

Last September AMRP staff contracted with Strong Solutions, LLC of Fairfield, Utah to stabilized the damaged culvert by replacing the washed-out portions of the walls and floors with reinforced concrete. Immediately downstream of the culvert, a log jam was removed, and a deep gully head cut that threatened to undermine the culvert was stabilized by building a rock drop structure with stairstep basins to allow fish to migrate upstream.  

Coal mining at Hiawatha began around 1909 and continued until 1992 with extensive operations in four canyons and in multiple coal seams. The company town of Hiawatha, with a peak population of approximately 1,500 residents in the 1940s, supported the operations. 

Oil and Gas Program

The Division’s Oil and Gas Program successfully launched the Field Inspection Prioritization application that uses specific criteria to generate and implement data-driven decisions. Staff has worked with the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC) to develop and implement the application designed to display in a spatial and report form which oil and gas sites should be inspected according to various inputs. 

All oil and gas wells were given a priority rating from one (highest priority) to three (low priority). Prioritization is based on operational factors such as compliance issues and history, age of the well and how long since the last inspection. Geographic factors include well proximity to surface water, groundwater, human population density and wildlife habitat. 

The program has been operational since January 2020 and has already helped our inspectors increase their inspection efficiency. The field application allows real time data collection that is automatically uploaded to the database saving inspectors time and reducing input errors. The program empowers program staff to consistently make decisions leading to reduced risk and more effective regulation through timely inspections.

This is an effective tool that will give management and staff the ability to make data driven decisions ensuring protection of Utah’s resources, while promoting responsible development. 


Wayne Western, Mining Engineer, Utah Minerals Program

Wayne Western is a mining engineer with the Division’s Minerals Program. He started with the Coal Program in 1991 and moved to the Minerals Program in 2007.

He is the lead for Carbon, Emery, Juab, Wayne and eastern Garfield counties. Wayne conducts technical reviews for small mines and exploration projects as well as engineering and bond review for large mines. He provides technical and regulatory support to operators ranging from calculating reclamation cost estimates to assistance in filling out small mine permits. He conducts routine inspections of mines and exploration projects ensuring operators are mining within their permits. 

In the Minerals Program he’s known as Bond, James Bond because he helps establish the current bonding practices and procedures used by both the coal and minerals programs and drafts technical directives on how bonds are to be calculated.

Wayne works with a number of operations with the most significant mine in his area being the Materion beryllium mine west of Delta. Materion is the world’s only primary producer of beryllium which is used in many high tech applications that make the modern world possible. He ensures mining is done in a way that it protects public safety and preserves the environment.  

Wayne Western, Mining Engineer, Utah Minerals Program

Wayne says the best thing about his job is his fun, professional and helpful co-workers. He also likes being able to visit many out-of-the-way areas including the Henry Mountains and west desert.
He has Bachelor of Science degrees in geology and mining engineering and a Master of Science in mining engineering.

Wayne Western, Mining Engineer, Utah Minerals Program

In Wayne’s leisure time he enjoys traveling with his wife to visit his children who live in the United Kingdom and takes annual trips to England and Scotland. He is a hunter education instructor and has been honored twice as Instructor of the Year. His wife is a fantastic baker and he enjoys reaping the benefits.

Year in Review – 2018

Oil and Gas Program

Oil and Gas Program staff worked on the exploration and production waste disposal facilities five year permit renewals requiring operators to have full-cost bonding for their facilities. The state rule, modified and approved by the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining in 2013, required an independent, third party review of reclamation and closure cost estimates be submitted by July 2018 and that the Division issue new permits for these facilities, which are valid for five years.

Twenty eight of the 30 facilities submitted permit applications by the deadline. Operators who did not submit an application are no longer permitted to operate; operators who do not post a full cost bond or otherwise fulfill the permit application requirements will not have their permits renewed and will not be allowed to operate. Operators without a valid permit will be required to reclaim their facilities.

Bonding protects the Division and the state of Utah against expensive reclamation costs requiring state funds.

The Uinta Basin has seen a boom in horizontal well development. There are presently about 200 horizontal wells drilled in the Basin. As operators drill more wells, they are becoming increasingly more productive with advancing technology and science.  Industry experts have estimated that there are 55 billion barrels of oil in place in the Uinta Basin, and this production per section can compete with any other fields in the the country.

Over the last year, three program managers retired with over 95 years Division experience between them. In addition, two experienced field inspectors also left the Division. It is always difficult to replace institutional knowledge and it has been a challenge to replace those valuable employees. However, staff stepped up to fill these voids and we have moved forward with hiring new staff so the program can continue providing quality services to the state of Utah. 

Coal Program

Coal Program staff oversaw the reclamation of the Horizon coal mine, a bond forfeiture site in Carbon County. It took roughly three months to remove the coal mine’s five-acre footprint and re-contour the site to match the surrounding landscape. Reclamation involved demolishing and sealing the portals, re-establishing the stream channels through the facility and parking fill pads, and applying topsoil, mulch and seed to the final contoured slopes.

The  program had a very busy year with 69 permit amendments processed, 271 field inspections, 90 water quality reports produced, and two bond release applications. Program staff approved significant coal lease additions at several operations extending coal mining well into the future in Utah. Additionally, the Emery No. 2 Mine began producing coal in earnest this year and the Division has received a new permit application package for the construction of the Kinney No. 2 Mine located near Scofield Reservoir. 

The program also saw the retirement of two long-time and devoted employees: Program Manager Daron Haddock and Biologist Joe Helfrich with 68 years of combined experience. A new program manager will be hired in February.

Minerals Program

The Minerals Program received new applications for five large mines in 2018. Three are for engineered rock products and two are for salts. The most significant application is the Sevier Playa project which is proposed to produce 328,500 tons of potassium sulfate fertilizer annually. This project would cover much of the bed of Sevier Lake and would include other processing and transportation facilities. The Division is not yet ready to approve the project. 

The Scipio Pass quarry has been issued tentative approval and would disturb 160 acres near I-15 in Millard County. Clyde Companies anticipates producing 200,000 tons of aggregate products per year for the first five years, with the life of mine currently expected to be 30 years. Two other large mines for aggregate products have been proposed for Washington County.

Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program

In 2018, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (AMRP) completed three coal and six non-coal abandoned mine reclamation projects. Work consisted of the construction of 1,600 feet of stream channel at Kenilworth, a previously reclaimed abandoned coal mine, the installation of a concrete plug and backfilling of a subsidence hole with over 13,000 cubic yards of fill material, and the closure of approximately 243 hazardous abandoned mine openings statewide. In addition, maintenance was performed at 15 previously closed abandoned mine sites.  

The program received an award for work completed on the Wolf Den Fire reclamation project in the Uintah Basin. The National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) publicly recognized Utah for the exemplary physical safety hazard mitigation in the reclamation of abandoned hard rock mines and presented them the nation’s highest achievement at its annual conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. Steve Fluke, AMRP manager and AMRP Archaeologist Seth Button attended the banquet and accepted the award.

Education outreach efforts included the distribution of more than 23,000 “Mining Utah’s Heritage” workbooks to 4th grade classes, designing and printing 1,700 calendars for distribution featuring historic coal mines from Carbon County’s Spring Canyon, and participating in 13 public outreach events.

Employee Highlight – Summer 2018

April Abate is an environmental scientist with the Division’s Minerals Program.  She started with the Division in 2008 working in the coal program then transferred to Minerals in 2013. 

Her job involves implementing state rules, regulating, and inspecting all hard rock mining activity in the state including small and large mines and exploration permits. April is responsible for overseeing all mineral mining operations in Utah and Uintah counties.

Some of the best aspects of her job involve working with mining companies to conduct operations that minimize impacts to the environment. For example, when a mine is located in a sage grouse management area, creative and alternative ideas need to be implemented to protect and reduce impacts to habitat. April works with biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to find options that allow mining operations to continue without effecting habitat.

One of April’s greatest job satisfactions is when she can propose ideas that are  more efficient, streamlined, and minimize ground disturbance. She tells operators to begin with the end reclamation in mind before starting mining. Often the main focus is on production, with reclamation being an afterthought. Enforcing the Mined Land Reclamation Act makes mine reclamation planning forethought, rather than an afterthought.

April also enjoys the people with whom she works. From local ranchers, government officials, operators, or organic chemists, she enjoys conversations with all of them and always takes away a gained perspective from these learning experiences. 

April grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts area and is a Boston sports fan and seafood lover at heart.

Minerals Program Map

Minerals Program staff and Division GIS coordinator created an interactive GIS-based map featuring all active and retired hard rock mine permits throughout the state. The map is located on the Minerals homepage https://minerals.ogm.utah.gov/default.html

Visitors to the site can use tools to determine mine location, land owner, operator, mine type, township, section, range, geology, and wildlife habitat. Another feature allows users to calculate the mine acreage and verify operation is within permit limits. 

Tutorials on how to use the mapping features are available on the website. These tools are intended to provide users more in-depth information on Utah’s mineral operations and education them on mines near them. 

The minerals program regulates all non-coal mining operations in the state with a few exceptions. From Kennecott Copper, the largest open-mined pit in the state to small operations, staff works to ensure mining operation procedures are followed. This includes verifying operators work within permit boundaries, mining operations pose no threat to public safety or the environment and assuring appropriate fees/bonds are collected for reclamation.

Utah contains over 500 different minerals and ore deposits that hold close to 30 different metals including copper, gold, and silver. Currently there are 600 permitted mineral operations statewide. In 2015 data from the U.S. Geological Survey ranked Utah 8th in the value of non-fuel mineral production, accounting for approximately 3.7 percent of the United States total.

Minerals Program: Uniquely Utah

Utah is home to an interesting mix of minerals used for a wide variety of products. Some of these minerals are found only in Utah, making them unique and valuable to the rest of the world. The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Minerals Program oversees and regulates all non-coal mining operations in the state. From large to small operators, staff works to ensure mining operation procedures are followed. This includes verifying operators work within permit boundaries, mining operations pose no threat to public safety or the environment, and making sure the Division has adequate bonds to ensure reclamation.

There are over 500 different minerals found in Utah with over 20 different metals including copper, gold and silver. Currently there are nearly 600 permitted mineral operations statewide with a total of approximately 66,600 acres of disturbance. The Minerals program with a staff of six inspectors statewide is tasked with reviewing mine permit applications (21 new permits in 2016) and amendments, inspecting mines (over 470 inspections in 2016), ensuring compliance with the law, and responding to public comments.

Red Beryl- rarer than diamond and more valuable than gold
Privately-held mining claim
Millard County, Utah

The gemstone has several different names: red beryl, red emerald, or bixbite. Originally, the mineral was named bixbite, but now red beryl is the most accepted designation. Red beryl is estimated to be worth 1,000 times more than gold and is so rare that one red beryl crystal is found for every 150,000 diamonds.

Red beryl is presently found at only three locations in the world: the Thomas Range and the Wah Wah Mountains in west-central Utah, and the Black Range in New Mexico. The only known deposit of large, gem-quality red beryl in the world is from the Ruby-Violet claims in the Wah Wah Mountains of Beaver County, Utah. These are private claims and no collecting is allowed without permission from the present claim owners.

Materion Corporation
Millard County, Utah

Beryllium is a light metal, but strong, melts at a high temperature and is corrosion-resistant. It is expensive and is used in missile and rocket parts due to its strength without weight. It is used in x-ray tubes because it is transparent to x-rays. When combined with copper it forms a high-strength, non-sparking alloy used for tools handled around oil wells and flammable gases, where a spark from an iron tool could be disastrous. It’s also used in beryllium copper golf clubs. Certain forms of Beryllium are toxic, so it must be handled with caution. Utah is home to the only active beryllium mine in the world.

American Gilsonite
Uintah County, Utah

Gilsonite is a shiny, black, solid hydrocarbon that has been mined in Utah since 1888. It is a trademarked brand name for uintaite, a naturally occurring hydrocarbon resin found in products including oil and gas, ink, paint, construction, asphalt and explosives. It is an important industrial mineral that is shipped worldwide. All Utah’s gilsonite mines are located in southeastern Uintah County.

Intrepid Potash
Grand County, Utah

Potash is potassium-containing salts used widely by farmers in fertilizer.
Most potash forms in arid regions when inland seas or lakes evaporate leaving behind potassium salt deposits. Over time, sediment buried these deposits creating potash ore.

In Utah, miners pump water into deep underground caverns. Potash is soluble, so water dissolves it into brine that is pumped back to the surface and into one of the evaporation ponds.  As the water evaporates, potash and other salts crystallize out. This evaporation process typically takes about 300 days. The water is dyed bright blue to reduce the amount of time it takes for the potash to crystallize; darker water absorbs more sunlight and heat. The crystals of potash and salt are then sent to a facility to be separated through a flotation process.

In 2013, the United States produced over one million tons of potash, about two percent of global production. The fertilizer industry consumed about 85 percent of the potash produced by the United States; the chemical industry used the rest.

Intrepid Potash near Moab is the largest producer of potassium chloride, one of many potash salts used in fertilizer and used to farm a variety of foods, particularly chloride-loving vegetables like sugar beets, celery, Swiss chard and other plants that are resilient to chloride. Its chloride can be beneficial for soils that are low in chloride, making plants more disease resistant; however, if the soil or irrigation water has high levels of chloride, the added content can create toxicity. This means that the levels have to be carefully managed, and MOP must only be used for select crops.

U.S. Magnesium
Tooele County, Utah

Magnesium is moderately priced, strong, light and easy to machine. Its downside is that it’s highly flammable. Magnesium was used for early photographic flashes; many modern pyrotechnics use magnesium powder, especially incendiary bombs, signals and flares. Magnesium is used in jet-engine parts, rockets and missiles, bicycles, and portable power tools. Much more common is aluminum mixed with magnesium.

Although there are other magnesium mines in the world. US Magnesium is the sole provider in the United States.

Dragon Mine
Juab County, Utah

The Dragon Mine is the only known measured resource of Halloysite Clay in the Western Hemisphere significant enough for large scale production. It is also one of only a few underground mineral mines in the state and one of the only halloysite mines in the world.

Halloysite has historically been used in the manufacture of porcelain, bone china, and fine china. In these applications the combination of the tubular shape in clay with low iron and titanium content produces ceramic ware with exceptional whiteness and translucency. The tubular shape, also known as a nanotube, may be large enough to serve as a pipe through which other nanoparticles can be channeled, or, depending on the material, may be used as an electrical conductor or an electrical insulator.

Halloysite nanotubes can be coated with metallic and other substances to achieve a wide variety of electrical, chemical, and physical properties. The hollow tubes can be filled with a variety of active ingredients including those used for cosmetics, household and personal care products, pesticides, pest repellents, pharmaceuticals and other agents that could benefit from extended release.

The State of Utah recently awarded a grant to a team from the University of Utah to further development of soild polymer electrolytes using halloysite for use in solid-state lithium batteries.

Employee Highlight – Summer 2016

Environmental Scientist/Reclamation Specialist Leslie Heppler

Leslie Heppler is an Environmental Scientist III/Reclamation Specialist in the Minerals Program and has been with the Division since March 2008. Her diverse knowledge allows her to contribute to mining engineering, geology and geotechnical engineering concerns confronting the Division on a daily basis.

Mining builds wealth to our society and is the backbone that provides metals and materials allowing the standard of living we all enjoy. Leslie works to find solutions that keep the public and environment protected, while allowing responsible resource development. Responsible miners plan from “cradle to grave” with the goal to move materials only once and end with successful reclamation- it is a win-win for the environment and society.

Her formal training consists of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from Western State College. Leslie’s school of hard “rocks” consisted of three summers with Homestake Mining in uranium exploration; three years with Amoco Minerals exploring Wyoming for Precambrian volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits, Arizona porphyry copper deposits and a mid-Miocene aged extensional tectonic gold prospect that became the Copperstone Gold Mine.

She spent 10 years with Kennecott in the exploration department and at the Barneys Canyon Mine. Her experience at Barneys Canyon included a year as mine foreman where she had the number one production and safety record. She also worked as the drill and blast foreman detonating 300 holes a day, five days a week. She is very proud of the work she did and attributes her successes to her crews with whom she worked.

Seeking a more quiet life, Leslie took a job with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) monitoring and fixing landslides, responding to geotechnical emergencies and new slope design for the next 13 years.

Leslie has been a state employee for 21 years. She enjoys all the challenges of working in the Minerals program. She credits the best part of her job to the team of co-workers she works with and the support of management who allows her the freedom to do what needs to be done.

When Leslie is not working, she spends time with her latest rescue puppy “Maggie von Waggles” who is always up for a hike, walk or chasing the ball.  She also enjoys puttering in the garden, updating her home and frequent trips to Colorado to help her parents.

About the Minerals Program

The Minerals Program regulates all non-coal mining operations in the state with a few exceptions. From Kennecott Copper, the largest open-mined pit in the state to small operations mining for trilobite fossils, staff works to ensure mining operation procedures are followed. This includes verifying operators work within permit boundaries, mines pose no threat to public safety or the environment and confirming appropriate fees/bonds are collected for reclamation.

According to preliminary 2014 data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Utah ranks 5th in the value of non-fuel mineral production, accounting for approximately 5.4 percent of the United States total. In 2014, copper was the largest contributor to the value of non-fuel minerals in Utah, having an estimated value of $1.5-billion and mostly produced from Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation’s Bingham Canyon Mine. Source: Utah’s Extractive Resource Industries 2014 

There are almost 200 different minerals mined in Utah including copper, gold, silver and beryllium. Currently there are more than 600 permitted mineral operations statewide.