SHERIDAN — The Spring Creek Mine is moving forward on an initiative to expand its mining permit to recover an additional 68 million tons of coal believed to exist within the existing boundaries of the mine. The public comment period for the proposed expansion ends Feb. 7.
The mine, owned by Cloud Peak Energy, is approximately 30 miles north of Sheridan. It is the largest coal mine in the state of Montana.
CPE Spokesman Rick Curtsinger said the permit revision will ensure future jobs.
“The recently published permit revision notice refers to a current permitting action to increase permitted reserve base and extend the mine life at our Spring Creek Mine,” Curtsinger said. “The revision, when approved, will permit mining of reserves leased from the (Bureau of Land Management) in 2010.”
Coal mined from the Powder River Basin is exported to utility and industrial customers in the Midwest and Western United States and Canada. CPE also actively exports coal to Asian markets via Canadian-based terminals.
Curtsinger said the Spring Creek Mine produced 17.2 million tons of coal in 2012 and paid more than $380 million in taxes.
Of that, $189 million went to the state of Wyoming and its communities.
“In addition, CPE expenditures in Wyoming totaled $260 million for all mining operations in 2012,” he said.
CPE has joined the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, a lobbyist group aimed at promoting public education in favor of establishing export terminals in Washington.
The same initiative is under scrutiny from environmental groups concerned about the impact of transporting fossil fuels to the area.
CPE owns and operates three surface coal mines in the Powder River Basin. In addition to Montana’s Spring Creek Mine, CPE runs the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines, both south of Gillette.
In addition, the company has rights to substantial undeveloped assets in the northern PRB. CPE currently supplies about 4 percent of the nation’s electricity and employs approximately 1,700 people.