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PacifiCorp closing coal mine

Portland-based PacifiCorp announced it will shut down its Deer Creek coal mine in Utah next year, after concluding it became too costly to operate.

Deer Creek, which employs 182 workers, has an estimated five years or less of reserves remaining. Much of the remaining coal has higher ash and sulfur content that made mining and complying with air quality standards more expensive, according to PacifiCorp. In a statement announcing the closure, the company also cited “rapidly escalating pension liabilities” for the mine’s unionized workforce as a “large factor” in the decision.

PacifiCorp has sought to sell the mine for the last 18 months but found no takers.

The Deer Creek mine has been operating since 1974. PacificCorp will seek regulatory approval to close the mine in early to mid-2015.

The move does not mean the company will close its nearby Huntington coal plant in Utah. To supply fuel for that plant, PacifiCorp signed a long-term coal supply agreement with Bowie Resource Partners.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or stevelaw@portlandtribune.com .

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