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Energy Minerals: Coal and Uranium

Resource guide for developing energy minerals on Indian trust land.

Coal

The Native American lands of the United States are home to large coal reserves, coal mining, and coal plants. According to the Division of Energy and Minerals Development (DEMD), twenty Native American reservations have coal reserves. Navajo, Hopi, and Crow lands have produced coal for decades. Coal revenues have been a major contributor to these Tribes’ economic health, generally accounting for a significant proportion of their total income and creating hundreds of direct, high paying jobs. 

DEMD provides technical assistance to Tribes by creating detailed geologic and mine models that are used to calculate economically minable coal resources in the ground. This data forms the foundation for developing mine plans and business models for informed Tribal strategic planning and ultimately entering negotiations with potential development partners from a strong position.

With the nationwide reduction of coal use, primarily for electric generation, Tribes have been faced with extreme cutbacks in both income and jobs. In response to this situation, DEMD is looking into new innovative techniques to process coal and capture carbon dioxide gas to assist coal-endowed Tribes to restore lost jobs and revenues. These technologies include conversion of coal to gas, coal to liquids (gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel), coal to hydrogen, ammonia (for fertilizer), carbon fiber, and more.

Uranium

Uranium is an important source of energy used in nuclear power plants, which operate without producing air pollution or carbon dioxide gas. The most common uranium mining method used in the US is in-situ leaching. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in-situ leaching is less costly and less environmentally disruptive than other methods of uranium mining. This method produces no waste rock, and no surface or underground removal of rock is necessary. 

DEMD can assist Tribes in assessing the potential for uranium development on tribal lands with a focus on defining economically viable deposits.

Services for Energy Minerals

The Division of Energy and Mineral Development provides project assistance to Tribes and individuals to develop energy minerals on their trust land. Learn more about how we can help below.

Contact Us

Branch of Solid Minerals
Office of Trust Services, Division of Energy and Mineral Development 13922 Denver West Parkway, Ste. 200
Lakewood, CO 80401-3142
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. MDT, Monday-Friday

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