On August 12, the Navajo Transitional Energy Co. (NTEC) received final regulatory approval to expand its Spring Creek Coal mine in southern Montana. The approval from the assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management adds approximately 72 million tons of recoverable coal reserves within 974 acres and should extend the life of the mine until 2031, four years longer than its current status.

The expansion had already received approvals from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team, and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

State and federal agencies did extensive analysis with significant public input for more than eight years before providing approval. The company said the thorough reviews, including a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement by the state of Montana, ensures a sound and responsible mining plan and provides regulatory oversight of operations.

In addition to maintaining its reclamation standards, NTEC will support the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team’s Stewardship Fund with a $107,000 contribution.

NTEC said it immediately began work in the new area. The addition of these acres allows the company to continue providing jobs in Montana and Wyoming for years to come and the expansion should produce tens of millions in taxes and royalties, supporting state and local communities, NTEC said.

The Spring Creek mine in Big Horn County, Montana, is one of three mines that NTEC acquired when it purchased Cloud Peak Energy Inc. during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The others were the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming.