Montana mining deal could open up massive coal caches
Written byMATTHEW BROWN, AP/Greenwire
Cloud Peak Energy Inc. and southeastern Montana's Crow Indian Reservation reached a deal to allow the company to lease and mine three large caches of coal.
Up for grabs is an estimated 1.4 billion tons of coal -- more fuel than the United States uses each year. The Wyoming-based company promised to pay the tribe $10 million during an initial period once the plan is approved by the tribe's legislature and Interior Department officials.
The tribe's reserves lie near the Wyoming border and are contained within the Powder River Basin coal fields.
"Partnering with the Cloud Peak Energy will help diversify the tribe's long-term coal revenue, provide good jobs and potential access to export markets for tribal coal," Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle said in a statement. In previous interviews, he said the coal would be shipped to Asian markets.
Negotiations for the deal on the rural, impoverished reservation have been taking place since last fall. As part of the agreement, the company would give hiring preference to American Indians, and it would allocate $50,000 a year in scholarships for Crow members.