Montana coal production slides 23% during 2020

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An aerial view of the Cloud Peak Energy Spring Creek Mine near Decker in 2013.

An aerial view of the Cloud Peak Energy Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana in 2013.

Montana coal production dropped 23% last year as demand for coal for U.S. electricity and exports diminished during the pandemic.

The recent disclosure by the U.S. Energy Information Administration put Montana coal production at about 26 million tons. Production nationally was at its lowest level since 1965. The 535 million short tons mined in America in 2020 were less than half the industry’s 2008 high point of 1.17 billion tons.

Montana’s coal struggles in 2020 were obvious. Spring Creek mine, Montana’s biggest coal producer, furloughed 73 employees for four months as the COVID-19 pandemic paused manufacturing in the Midwest. Mine owner Navajo Transitional Energy Company also

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