Neither Dawson nor other company officials have elaborated about what caused the longwall relocation to take much longer than anticipated. The mine, which has about 300 employees, also was idled a couple of times in 2011 as a result of roof falls.

The company did not say how much coal the mine formerly known as Bull Mountain was projected to produce and ship in 2012, but things were looking good before the production/shipping halt. Signal Peak, located near Roundup in Musselshell County about 30 miles north of Billings, turned out nearly 5 million tons in the first nine months of 2012, almost reaching the 5.1 million tons it produced for all of 2011.