Montana coal mine owner sues BNSF

The owner of Montana’s largest coal mine is suing BNSF after a year of shipment struggles that Navajo Transitional Energy Company alleged has cost millions of dollars.

NTEC, owner of Spring Creek Mine in southeast Montana, said in a lawsuit filed Monday that it was only able to get 2.9 million tons of coal to port through November of this year. It had expected to ship 5.5 million tons, possibly more, but couldn’t get train service for coal shipments.

The mining company, which bought Spring Creek at bankruptcy auction in 2019, accuses BNSF of breach of contract for not providing enough locomotives to shuttle coal to Vancouver, British Columbia. For years, Spring Creek relied on coal sales to power plants in South Korea and Japan, by way of Westshore Terminal in Vancouver, B.C.

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 Spring Creek is Montana’s largest coal mine, producing about 13 million tons a year. The mine previously owned by Cloud Peak Energy. Spring Creek is the second to Signal Peak in coal exports. Both mines ship out of Vancouver, which is roughly 1,400 miles away by rail.

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