Montana grants 65-day extension for Navajo-owned coal mine

In this April 4, 2013, file photo, a mechanized shovel loads a haul truck that can carry up to 250 tons of coal at the Spring Creek coal mine near Decker, Mont. A Navajo Nation company may continue operating a coal mine for two more months amid ongoing negotiations over the terms of a state permit, Montana officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in granting an extension that keeps about 300 miners at work. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Montana officials say a Navajo Nation company may continue operating a coal mine for two more months amid negotiations over the terms of a state permit.

The extension announced Tuesday keeps about 300 miners at work at the Spring Creek mine near Decker, Montana.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Navajo Transitional Energy Company have been negotiating how the department might be able to take the company to court to enforce environmental laws despite tribal sovereignty.

The company's purchase of Spring Creek and two Wyoming mines in a 2019 bankruptcy sale made it the third-biggest U.S. coal company.

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