SHERIDAN — Members of the Powder River Basin Resource Council on Thursday offered sharp criticism of Ramaco Carbon’s announcement that it would partner with a 3-D manufacturing company.
In a press release, the PRBRC said the announcement is just the latest attempt to mislead the public.
“It embroiders their fantasy that they have actually invested in a research and manufacturing park in Sheridan,” the press release states.
Ramaco Carbon said production of products and component parts for Silicon Valley-based Carbon will take place at Ramaco’s iPark facility, which has yet to be constructed.
PRBRC member Gillian Malone pointed out that the land on which Ramaco says the facility will be located, located north of Sheridan near the Acme exit on Interstate 90, isn’t zoned for the industrial use Ramaco proposes. According to county maps, the 118.46 acres owned by Ramaco Wyoming Coal Co. and proposed to be used for the facilities, is currently zoned agricultural.
Ramaco Carbon officials have said they intend to build and operate a coal mine (Brook Mine), research facility (iCAM) and manufacturing facility (iPark) just north of Sheridan.
The state denied a mining permit to the Brook Mine after the Environmental Quality Council conducted hearings and ruled in September that Ramaco’s plans for the mine didn’t offer enough environmental protections. Ramaco has appealed the EQC and Department of Environmental Quality decisions in district court. Ramaco CEO and Chairman Randall Atkins said the company hopes to break ground on the manufacturing and research facilities in 2018.
The PRBRC argued that Ramaco’s recent announcement is simply an attempt to sway public opinion.
“As we said last week when they filed their appeal of the coal permit denial, their actions tell the residents of the Tongue River Valley and all of us in Sheridan County that the company isn’t concerned with protecting the water resources and quality of life of the valley, but instead just wants to push forward with its deficient plan for a coal mine,” Tongue River Valley land owner Joan Tellez said in the PRBRC press release. “All of this noise about their purported partnerships is smoke and mirrors.”
The PRBRC press release also questioned the viability of Ramaco Carbon and the related Ramaco Resources, Inc. Ramaco Carbon, LLC, posted a third-quarter loss of $6.2 million.
Carbon, the company with which Ramaco has said it will partner, is a 3-D printing startup that has been featured in national publications like The Economist and the Wall Street Journal for partnerships with companies like Adidas, John Deere and Caterpillar. The company was also listed as No. 18 on the MIT Technology Review’s “50 Smartest Companies 2017.”
Representatives of the PRBRC have questioned the startup’s viability as well.
“At best, Carbon has agreed to license some uncommercialized processes to Ramaco so they can maybe make products for someone else,” said Bob LeResche, PRBRC member and a former investment banker. “Ramaco’s press release reveals no customers, no specific product, no financing and a ‘Popular Mechanics’ worthy dream of vague products. It reveals no commercially proven process.”