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Montana approves proposal to expand Spring Creek coal mine

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Montana approves proposal to expand Spring Creek coal mine

Montana regulators approved a mine expansion that will give Navajo Transitional Energy Co. LLC access to 72 million tons of coal from its Spring Creek mine.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a record of decision permitting an additional 977 acres of new mining disturbance at the operation. The revision was submitted before the mine was sold by Cloud Peak Energy Inc. and will add an estimated four years of mining life to the surface coal mine.

The Department of Environmental Quality wrote in its March 27 record of decision that the proposed expansion "is sufficiently protective of resources in the project area and vicinity." The state also determined the proposed expansion is consistent with regulatory requirements and minimizes potential impacts.

Navajo Transitional Energy bought Spring Creek and two other mines in the Powder River Basin through a bankruptcy auction of Cloud Peak assets in late 2019. Spring Creek was temporarily closed over a dispute between the company and state regulators over sovereign immunity issues, but temporary measures were implemented to keep the mine open until a final agreement could be reached.