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Montana coal mine closes amid decline in demand

| February 12, 2021 7:00 AM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana coal mine has closed amid a substantial decline in demand for thermal coal.

Decker Coal in the Powder River Basin stopped mining in January after the owner of the mine filed for bankruptcy late last year, according to court documents found by the Billings Gazette.

The coal firm Lighthouse Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and cited the dismal coal market. The company said in court filings that it was no longer economically feasible to operate the surface coal mine.

The company had laid off 76 workers at the Decker mine after filing for bankruptcy. About 46 employees remained after the layoffs, with nine furloughed union employees. By Jan. 22, the company had stopped mining for coal and had only four union workers at the facility.

Other mines in southern Montana have closed in recent memory, including the Bull Mountain Mine in 1998, which reopened in 2004 and now operates as Signal Peak mine.