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Natural Resources & Energy

Cloud Peak Buys Stake In Coal Export Terminal

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One of Wyoming’s largest coal producers has purchased a stake in a controversial export terminal in the Pacific Northwest. Cloud Peak Energy announced Thursday that it now owns 49 percent of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Washington.

If built, the terminal would be used to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to Asia. It's one of the few remaining terminals proposed; a number of others have been scrapped because of weak international coal prices and local opposition. 

The Gateway terminal has not yet received environmental approval, and is opposed by the Lummi tribe, which says it would interfere with tribal fishing grounds.

“Political and emotional momentum against coal will make it hard," said Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall after the deal was announced. "But [the terminal] should be approved and if we actually get a fair process, I believe it will be. I have to accept that we don’t always get a balanced review of things, but we’ll do everything we can to try and make it happen.”

Uncertainty about permitting of the terminal was reflected in the sale price. Cloud Peak’s stake cost just 2 million dollars upfront, with the company also agreeing to cover up to $30 million dollars in permitting fees.

As part of the deal, the Crow Indian tribe of Montana also has the option to purchase a stake in the terminal. Cloud Peak has a lease agreement for 1.4 billion tons of coal from the Crow Reservation.

The environmental review of Gateway Pacific is expected to wrap up sometime next year.

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