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Government to evaluate impact of Montana coal mine expansion

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is inviting public participation as it evaluates the impacts of proposed developments related to the Spring Creek mine in Montana

Cloud Peak Energy Inc. recently received approval from the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement for a mining plan modification. The environmental impact assessment is consistent with an order by the U.S. Department of the Interior allowing preparatory work and analysis to continue on pending projects during a pause on federal coal leasing while a programmatic review of the program is conducted, a Federal Register notice said.

The notice includes the sale of two coal tracts, but the BLM will not make a final leasing decision on those sales until the programmatic review is complete. A modification to the lease being considered will be allowed under the pause because it is less than 160 acres.

According to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data, Spring Creek produced 4.2 million tons of coal in the first two quarters of 2016 and just under 17 million tons in 2015.