Community worries future is uncertain for Spring Creek Mine

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — As the pressure to find clean energy sources mounts, and the profitability of exporting coal plummets, many Sheridan residents are worried that Spring Creek Mine — an operation of Cloud Peak Energy — may lay off local employees. Dally reached out to Cloud Peak Energy to find out what is planned for the mine, which is located approximately 35 miles north of Sheridan in Montana. Last year, Spring Creek Mine produced over 17 million tons of coal, 4 million of which was exported to primarily Asian markets. According to Cloud Peak's fourth quarter report of 2015, company-wide earnings for year end 2015 were $123.8 million, versus $201.9 million in 2014. "Weak coal prices in Asian markets combined with a strong USD make exports temporarily unprofitable, while uncertainty around a pending change in federal coal royalty valuation rules added further risk," Rick Curtsinger, Director of Public Affairs said in an email to Dally. While Curtsinger did not say whether the company has layoffs for the Spring Creek Mine planned, he did say Cloud Peak Energy hopes to minimize impact of national and international turmoil on its employees. "Cloud Peak Energy is working to manage the reduced production to minimize any impacts on our employees through attrition, and opportunities at our other operations in the Powder River Basin," Curtsinger said. "Even with the reduction, Spring Creek Mine will remain one of the largest mines in the country." While coal remained America's top fuel for electricity on 2015, in January, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to redo a previously completed Environmental Assessment of the area. "Although we are disappointed that the trial court’s decision fails to recognize the robust, multi-year regulatory process that has already been conducted, the Spring Creek Mine will continue to operate during the court-ordered supplemental review period, and we will work to assist OSM in addressing their review." Curtsinger said the Spring Creek Mine "is proud of its record of strong environmental stewardship and provides significant benefits including safe, reliable and low-cost electricity, good-paying jobs and substantial federal, state, and local tax and royalty revenue." The OSM Environmental Assessment process has begun, and public comments are being accepted now through March 12. More information on the Environmental Assessment has been circulating many user-generated Sheridan Facebook pages, and can be found at Discussion and posts on Sheridan Upcycle: [image: Inline image 1] [image: Inline image 2] *Feature photo: A photograph of an open coal mine taken by Dainis Hazners is on display in the Sheridan Fulmer Library mezzanine. / Pitchengine Communities photo* #dally #news #dally #news