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Feds Approve 1.4B Ton Coal Deal With Crow Tribe

A Cloud Peak mine would be the second on the Crow reservation. The Absaloka mine opened in 1974 and is owned by Westmoreland Resources Inc. It produces about 6 million tons of coal a year and employs about 80 people.

The three members of Montana's congressional delegation â¿¿ Democratic U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, and Republican Rep. Steve Daines â¿¿ issued statements supporting the new agreement. They said it offers a chance to increase job opportunities on the 2.2-million-acre reservation along the Montana-Wyoming border.

Cloud Peak's 2012 coal exports totaled 4.4 million tons, extracted from the Spring Creek mine located just east of the reservation.

The company is pursuing a second new mine at another nearby site known as Youngs Creek after closing a $300 million deal on that property last year.

Beyond the export market, the company has said the coal from the Crow reservation could serve new domestic customers. But U.S. demand for coal has fallen sharply from its historic levels, making prospects for new domestic contracts uncertain.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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