NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rio Tinto (ADR) ( RTP) has plans to take Cloud Peak Cloud Peak Energy, its coal mining company, public in a move to cope with the tough business environment.

The initial public offering is slated for Friday. Cloud Peak will offer 35.19 million shares at a price ranging from $16 per to $18 per share. It will trade under the ticker symbol "CLD" on the NYSE. It may also issue $600 million of senior unsecured notes, with about $284.6 million to be distributed to Rio Tinto and the rest earmarked for general purposes.

The sale could raise up to $491.6 million after expenses, according to an SEC filing. The proceeds will go to Rio Tinto in exchange for mining assets. The net proceeds could end up as high $565.3 million if underwriters end up taking the offer of 4.6 million shares to cover overallotments.

Cloud Peak's reserves and long term contracts renders the pricing reasonable, according to Francis Gaskins of IPOdesktop.

This Rio Tinto subsidiary is the third largest U.S. coal producer, overseeing mines in the coal-rich regions of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Cloud Peak's raked in a solid pro forma net income of $63.1 million in the year ended December 31, almost double $32.3 million in 2007.

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