The Wishbone Hill Mine is a proposed mine site in the Matanuska Valley approximately 5 miles west of downtown Sutton, AK. The site contains an estimated 14 billion tons of bituminous coal. Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. began exploration work in this area in the summer of 2010 and has already found a probable buyer for the coal. Usibelli’s plan calls for mining 6 million tons of coal at a rate of 500,000 tons/ year. This area was historically mined for coal as early as 1916 and was most recently mined in the 1980s. The lease area has been the site of a number of coal fires, some burning since the 1960’s, and has been the focus of a multi-million dollar effortto suppress the fires. Creation of a feasibility study is currently underway.
Many local residents have concerns about the mine. Issues include:
- Degradation to nearby Moose Creek. The Moose Creek Salmon Restoration Project has had success restoring the river from damages from previous mining.
- The mine site is close to residential areas
- Noise and air pollution from coal dust from blasting as well as trucking or rail transport of the coal.
- Water pollution