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E&E News ($):

Customers of mines in Wyoming and Montana burned as much as 42% less coal last year, according to a new analysis estimating which operations are most at risk of closing.

The Powder River Basin mines about 40% of the country’s coal, but the region’s sprawling open pits have seen production cut by half since 2010. A coronavirus pandemic-ravaged 2020 saw coal demand fall further as natural gas prices plummeted.

According to a Sightline Institute report released last week, two mines were hit the hardest: Lighthouse Resources Inc.’s Decker mine in Big Horn County, Mont., and Arch Resources Inc.’s Coal Creek mine in Campbell County, Wyo.

Power plants that bought coal from Decker burned 42% less of that fossil fuel in 2020 compared with an average of the three previous years. Coal Creek customers burned 41% less.

Decker closed in January after Lighthouse filed for bankruptcy. Arch announced it would close Coal Creek by 2022 as part of that company’s shift to supplying coal to steelmakers (Greenwire, Feb. 9).

[James Marshall]

More: Powder River Basin mines hit hard as coal declined—report

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