Coal from the Montana side of the Powder River Basin will soon be headed to Japan for two new state-of-the-art coal gasification plants in the Fukushima Prefecture. Cloud Peak Energy announced an agreement with Singapore-based JERA Trading to supply coal for up to 40 months beginning at the end of next year.
The company's Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana has been supplying coal to Asian utilities for a number of years.
Rick Curtsinger, Public Affairs Director with Cloud Peak Energy, says it’s too early to say if this new contract will mean more jobs.
“One possibility is that this contract will help offset some decline in domestic sales helping to insure that Spring Creek continues to generate significant local, state and federal tax revenue and that it also continues to supply good paying jobs in and around Montana and Wyoming,” says Curtsinger.
The two 540-megawatt plants will convert the coal to synthetic natural gas, which will provide electricity that was lost with the destruction of the nuclear reactors in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Company officials say the two plants are being built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The first plant is expected to begin operations in 2020.
Cloud Peak Energy owns three mines in the Powder River Basin: Spring Creek in Montana, and Antelope and Cordero Rojo in Wyoming. Curtsinger says Spring Creek was chosen over the others for two reasons.
“Spring Creek Mine is in the northern part of the Powder River basin so it has a transportation advantage over some of the mines further to the south,” Curtsinger says. “ In addition the coal in the Spring Creek mine has a higher heat content.”
The mine will deliver the coal by rail to the Westshore Terminals at Roberts Bank, Vancouver, British Columbia, for loading onto ocean-going vessels beginning the end of 2019