BLM accepts $49M bid for Powder River Basin tracts

Posted: Jun 20, 2011

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North Antelope Rochelle Mine

The Bureau of Land Management has accepted a $49.3 million bid from Cloud Peak Energy Inc. to lease roughly 1,908 acres for coal mining in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.

Cloud Peak's successful bid for the West Antelope II South Coal Tract in Converse County -- which is said to contain more than 50 million tons of mineable coal -- follows the company's lease last month of the nearby West Antelope II North Coal Tract in Campbell County (Greenwire, May 12). The company says both tracts will help expand the life of its Antelope mine.

"These tracts are expected to more than double the reserves at the Antelope mine and, along with the additional coal within an existing State of Wyoming lease near our Antelope mine, add more than 12 years of production," CEO Colin Marshall said in a statement.

Cloud Peak must pay $3 an acre in annual rent along with royalties, which are divided between the state and federal governments.

The group WildEarth Guardians is challenging the legality of the lease sale, something the company acknowledged in a press release yesterday. Critics say the Bureau of Land Management is not paying enough attention to environmental and health concerns stemming from the mining of coal on federal land (Greenwire, March 1).

Lease sales are scheduled for July and August for two other tracts in Campbell County. In a recent interview, Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians, said he expected the group to file a lawsuit against those leases as well (E&ENews PM, June 10).

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