Alcoa Approved to Open Three Oaks Mine in Texas; Keeps Rockdale Operations Competitive
ROCKDALE, TX---The Railroad Commission of Texas unanimously approved Alcoa’s application to open its new Three Oaks Mine in Lee and Bastrop Counties at its monthly conference Friday (September 20, 2002) in Austin. Chairman Michael Williams was joined by fellow commissioners Charles Matthews and Tony Garza in approving the permit to the aluminum producer that is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Central Texas.

Hearings Examiner Marcy Spraggins of the Railroad Commission told the commissioners that the case documentation included overwhelming evidence that mining can be conducted at Three Oaks Mine in accordance with the regulations.Alcoa officials welcomed the action and predicted that lignite production will begin sometime next year. The company mines about six million tons of coal annually to provide power to its aluminum smelter southwest of Rockdale in Milam County. The lignite reserve at Alcoa’s present Sandow Mine is nearing the end of its life, and the new Three Oaks Mine will provide fuel to generate electricity for another 30-35 years, officials said.

Alcoa’s mining operations have received many awards for land restoration, including “Best of the Best” among all surface mines in the United States, from the Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining and most recently the “Lone Star Land Steward Award” from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“We are very pleased that the permit application presented to the Railroad Commissioners was uncontested,” said Alcoa Sandow and Three Oaks Mines Manager Tommy Hodges. “Alcoa has worked diligently to address the issues raised by groups and individuals. This project and permit application has to be one of the most reviewed, discussed and debated actions in recent regulatory history. The Railroad Commission Staff as well as over 22 other State and Federal entities have looked at the Three Oaks Permit Application. In addition, the new mine property has passed the test of an Unsuitability Petition proceeding and is going though an extensive process for preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

“I know that the employees of Sandow Mine are proud of their environmental stewardship record and award winning mining efforts. Now that they have been given this opportunity by the Railroad Commission, we are all committed to delivering the same performance at Three Oaks.”

“Obviously, we are all very pleased that this day has come,” said Alcoa Energy Manager Bill Eckert. “A great deal of work went into the preparation of this application and a similar amount of support came from our employees, the unions, local, state and federal elected officials and, especially, from our many community friends. All of that, combined with the commitment of our employees, and Alcoa’s mining expertise and land restoration performance, is responsible for this permit. “This is a landmark occasion for Alcoa and the communities that have supported us the last 50 years. This is an important step in our efforts to keep Rockdale Operations competitive.”

Alcoa’s Rockdale facility employs 2000 Central Texans with an annual payroll of $100 million, purchases $200 million annually in goods and services and pays about $3.5 million in local taxes.

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Reclaimed mine land at Rockdale.