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Mont. tribe signs coal deal with Wyo. company

Published On: Jan 24 2013 02:21:58 PM MST
coal plant train
CROW AGENCY, Mont. -

The chairman of the Crow Tribe has signed an agreement giving a Wyoming mining company rights to lease an estimated 1.4 billion tons of coal beneath the tribe's southeastern Montana reservation.
    
Thursday's deal with Cloud Peak Energy involves more coal than the U.S. consumes annually.
    
Cloud Peak would pay the tribe $10 million during an initial option period if the U.S. Department of Interior approves the agreement.
    
The deal is aimed at reviving stalled efforts to expand mining on the impoverished, 2.2 million-acre reservation. Cloud Peak has plans to ship at least some of the fuel overseas, as mining companies tap into export markets to offset flagging domestic demand for coal.
    
An earlier attempt to build a $7 billion dollar coal-to-liquids plant on the Crow reservation failed to attract financing.