Luminant announces mine closure near Elgin
Three Oaks Mine, owned by Vistra Energy, the parent company of TXU Energy and Luminant, announced on Oct. 13 that it is closing the mine near Elgin, after 10 years of operation in Bastrop and Lee County.
The Sandow power plant in Rockdale, will also be closed pending ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) concurrence.
Three Oaks Mine was purchased by Luminant from Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America) in 2007. Along with employees who will lose their jobs, at issue is how water rights to the Carrizo-Simsboro aquifer will be impacted and if the company can continue to support the cleanup costs for the nearly 16,000 acres of land permitted under which Luminant has mined.
According to company officials, factors contributing to the decision to terminate electric generation after over two decades is due to sustained low wholesale market prices, an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices.
“The economics of operating these sites no longer make them viable options for our fleet, even after substantial efforts to streamline performance,” Vistra Energy said.
“Sandow has been reliably powering Texas since 1981 thanks to the skill and dedication of our people over the decades. We honor and recognize their service.”
Some Central Texans opposed the mine coming to Bastrop and Lee Counties when it obtained permits and arrived more than 10 years ago. The project was bitterly contested through four years of hearings and public forums.
With the closure of the mine and the Sandow power plant in Milam County, Luminant projects about 450 people will lose jobs—200 at the plant and 250 at the mine. The company says affected employees will be offered severance benefits.
Unknown is the impact to water under the unmined area since Alcoa owns 37,000 acres of property (plus water rights) in Lee, Milam and Bastrop Counties. Since the late 1990s, San Antonio Water System (SAWS) aimed to pipe water from the area, about 60 miles northeast of Austin, from another tract belonging to the aluminum smelting company, Alcoa.