Chief operations officer Dave Stone told the Raton Range newspaper the tentative contracts had led it to start work on an internal plant to try to get the Las Animas County operation back up and running.
The Trinidad operation, owned by Canadian miner Cline Mining, has been closed since July, despite initial plans for a 60-day idle. It extended the stoppage in September.
Both times, officials called the closure temporary, vowing to restart mining “pending improved market conditions”
“Everything is right to reopen,” Stone told the paper.
“I have redone the whole mining plan on a mining engineering basis.”
He said four interested buyers had emerged, though he did not elaborate on the end users or the tonnage that might be purchased.
There are 22 individuals working at New Elk, including tradesmen and mining supervisors who are maintaining the mine and preparing for a potential reopen.
Stone told the Raton Range the group was working on “the action plan implementation”
At its peak in May, the operation employed 330 but 75 were laid off May 18 and 200 more received layoff notices on July 13.
If all goes to plan, Stone said 50-60 workers would be hired within 30 days of the signing of a coal sales agreement, another 50-60 workers within the following 60 days and 50 more workers over another 60-day timeframe.
He told the paper the company envisioned having two mines, two preparation plants, two longwalls and a payroll of 700 people.
“That’s our goal,” he said, noting the plan would hinge on market conditions.
In July, just days before the idle announcement, Cline confirmed a 59% jump in the measured and indicated resources at New Elk.
Cline said the updated estimates for the complex in Trinidad showed 618.9 million tons of measured and indicated coal resources, a jump of 230.4Mt.
New Elk’s inferred coal resources total 104.5Mt, an increase of 81.8Mt, or a spike of 360%.
The complex comprises the Green, Loco, Blue, Bing Canyon Upper, Red, Maxwell, Apache and Allen coal seams in a total plan area of 34,060 acres.
The complex’s seams are classified as low-sulfur, high-volatile B bituminous coal and can be marketed as a high-ash metallurgical-grade coal, a pulverized coal injection coal or a thermal coal.
Cline Mining holds significant metallurgical coal property interests in British Columbia and Colorado.