Our Mine Operations

As the demand for electricity from Western Fuels Association Members has increased, baseload generation levels have climbed. Accordingly, demand increased for coal, the most cost-effective alternative to costly fuel oil and natural gas generation.

One of the facets making Western Fuels unique from other coal buyers is WFA is also a coal producer. To secure long term stable pricing and supply of fuel for WFA’s members WFA manages the Dry Fork Mine in Gillette, WY.

Considering the growing importance of coal to electric utilities, WFA will continue to employ the latest advances in mining technology and rely upon its experienced workers to help ensure its Members continue to enjoy a reliable supply of coal.

Dry Fork Mine – Gillette, Wyoming

Western Fuels Association manages the Dry Fork Mine, which is owned by Western Fuels-Wyoming. Dry Fork produces approximately 6 million tons of coal annually. Customers include Basin Electric’s Laramie River Station in Wheatland, WY, the newly constructed Dry Fork Station located at the Dry Fork Mine, and Leland Olds Station in Stanton, ND. With a total reserve base in excess of 250 million tons, Dry Fork’s customers are guaranteed a long term affordable fuel source.

Fuel Chain Management

Western Fuels Association is a cooperative enterprise operating on a not-for-profit basis to provide coal and other services for the generation of electricity by consumer owned utilities. Western Fuels’ current member-owners are rural electric generation and transmission cooperatives, municipal utilities, and other public power entities. Western Fuels Association is a national fuel supply cooperative with considerable and diverse experience in coal mining, coal procurement, and transportation management.

For over four decades, WFA has amassed extensive fuel chain management experience. Since its inception, WFA has managed the procurement and delivery of over half a billion tons of coal to the benefit of its Members' operations.

Western Fuels’ Members are entitled to an array of services including coal procurement and transportation negotiations and contract administration as well as access to WFA’s expertise in coal mining, permitting and geologic investigation.

WFA either owns or leases approximately 1400 rail cars and manages their scheduling, maintenance and repair on behalf of its members. Most of these cars are in service with BNSF and UP railroads. WFA’s manager, Coal and Transportation oversees rail operations and manages the liaison between the power plant operators, mine operators, and railroads. As noted above, WFA also operates the Escalante-Western Railway in New Mexico.

Coal Acquisitions

  • Prepare requests for proposal, evaluates bids and recommends coal suppliers
  • Monitor the over the counter market for purchase opportunities
  • Conduct coal market and transportation research
  • Negotiate and administer coal contracts
  • Attend scale tests and verify scale results for payment of coal and transportation services
  • Cross-checking of coal samples in case of a coal quality disagreement
  • Receive, review for correctness and compliance with the contractual provisions, and approve/disapprove all coal and transportation invoices.

Rail Services

Transportation plays a key role in satisfying the energy demands placed on electricity generators. When supported by a reliable source for coal, utilities’ operations run smoothly and with more predictable pricing than the peaking systems that rely on natural gas.

WFA manages and maintains 1,400 rail cars, schedules loadings and deliveries and negotiates equipment financing and leasing services. In addition, WFA also operates the Escalante-Western Railway in New Mexico. This short line railroad runs between the Lee Ranch/El Segundo Mine and Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s Escalante Generating Station. All of these services are geared toward providing WFA’s members the most competitive and efficient transportation possible.

Coal Transportation

  • Bid Solicitation
  • Contract Administration
  • Train Scheduling
  • Railcar Ownership and Leasing Evaluations
  • Fleet Management
  • Accounting, Rail Property Taxes and Insurance
  • Railroad Construction/Build-Out/Cost Analysis

Fleet Management

Through its Fleet management program Western Fuels Association provides comprehensive and hands on oversight of your rail fleet, ensuring maximum efficiency and availability. 

Utilizing a network of repair shops with pre-negotiated hourly rates, Western Fuels has the ability to pick and choose based on the type of maintenance or repair, available space and shop capabilities. We are physically present during each scheduled maintenance ensuring that only necessary repairs are performed while auditing the quality of repair in real time. 

Western Fuels orders replacement parts directly from the manufacturer or vendor, eliminating the potential of additional mark-up by the shop.  We also perform exhaustive audits of repair bills to ensure compliance with AAR Field and Office Manuals and to eliminate duplicate repairs, duplicate billing and billing repairs made under warranty. 

 Fleet management is a material, cost-cutting component complementing our full service menu.


WFA has a tradition of standing with its members to mitigate the impact of initiatives and legislation that would increase the delivered cost of coal and subsequently increase the price of electricity.  WFA strives to support the coal industry with active participation and financial support to a number of industry trade associations, including:

  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Mid-West Electric Consumers Association
  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
  • American Public Power Association
  • National Mining Association
  • Wyoming Mining Association
  • Colorado Mining Association
  • Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute
  • National Coal Transportation Association
  • Western Coal Traffic League
  • American Coal Council