Minera Carbonífera Río Escondido, S. A. (MICARE) is a mostly state-owned concern established August 2,1977, with the main objective of coal development for power generation. Present coal reserves assigned to the company are located in the Fuentes-Río Escondido basin in the northeastern part of Coahuila, and the Colombia basin in the northern part of Nuevo León; reserves in the latter, however, have not been completely evaluated. The present chapter refers exclusively to the Carbon I and Carbon II projects in the Fuentes-Río Escondido basin.
The notion of creating MICARE originated after the discovery of coal potential in the vicinity of Nava, Coahuila, during the 1960s. The properties of this coal (sub-bituminous, long-flame) preclude its use as coke for the steel industry; the possibility was then considered of using it as fuel for power generation. The first coal-fueled power plant in Mexico began to operate in 1964 with coal from a small underground mine northwest of the present Mine I facilities (Fig. 1). The venture was successful and inspired exploration over a more extensive area, as well as the conception of a vast project capable of generating approximately 10 percent of the entire power demand in Mexico by the year 2000.