Antelope Coal Mine

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Antelope Coal Mine is a coal mine, operated by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, owned by the Navajo Nation, producing 23. 1 million short tons, near Gillette, in Campbell County, Wyoming, United States.


The map below shows the exact location of the mine, located in the southern end of the Powder River Basin, "approximately 60 miles south of Gillette," in Campbell County Wyoming.

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Project Details

  • Sponsor: Navajo Transitional Energy Company[1][2]
  • Parent Company: Navajo Nation
  • Location: Gillette, WY
  • GPS Coordinates:43.494921, -105.361879 (exact)
  • Status: Operating
  • Production Capacity: 23,155,741 (short tons, 2018)[3]
  • Total Resource:
  • Reserves:424.1 Mt proven and probable[4]
  • Coal type: Subbituminous
  • Mine Size:
  • Mine Type: Surface[5]
  • Start Year:
  • Employees: 454
  • Source of Financing: Navajo Nation


Antelope Coal Mine is fifty-five miles north of Douglas, Wyoming in the Powder River Basin. Rio Tinto Energy America acquired the mine in 1993 from Northern Energy Resource Company, a mining subsidiary of PacifiCorp. Antelope’s production has continued to increase each year for the last 20 years, and is permitted to mine 36 million tons of coal annually. Coal mined from Antelope is shipped primarily to Illinois, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Texas. The coal's average quality is 8,850 Btu subbituminous thermal coal.[6]

In 2008 Rio Tinto spun the most significant of its Powder River Basin coal assets — including the Antelope Coal Mine — off into Cloud Peak Energy, a company in which Rio Tinto has a 48.3% stake.[7]

In April 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the sale of coal reserves in the Powder River Basin next to Cloud Peak Energy's Antelope Mine. Cloud Peak Energy Inc. wants to mine an additional 430 million tons of coal reserves at the surface mine. Groups questioning the Antelope mine expansion included the Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, Clean Energy Action and the Powder River Basin Resource Council. All said the coal would contribute to climate change once burned, and that the BLM is not taking this into account when determining federal coal leasing.[8]

In the record of decision for the Antelope mine, BLM officials said the options for limiting greenhouse emissions are better evaluated at power plants than at coal mines.[8] On an average day an average day, 21 long freight trains full of coal leave Antelope coal mine bound for 100 power plants across the country.[9]

News and Controversies

Sale to Navajo Transitional Energy Company

In August 2019, Cloud Peak Energy announced that it had "selected Navajo Transitional Energy Company as the successful bidder to assume ownership of its three coal mines in the basin" according to the Casper Star-Tribune. "The deal includes a $15.7 million immediate cash payment, a $40 million second lien promissory note and payment of royalties for coal produced over the next five years. Navajo will also take over Wyoming’s Cordero Rojo and Antelope mines — in addition to its Spring Creek mine in Montana."[10]

At the time of purchase, Antelope was the third-largest coal mine in the nation. With Antelope as an asset, the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) became the third-largest coal producer in the United States of America. NTEC is moving its headquarters from New Mexico to Colorado as a result of the transaction.[1]

Funding of Climate Change Denial

Bankruptcy filings from Cloud Peak showed that "the coal giant gave contributions to leading think tanks that have attacked the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change, as well as to several conservative advocacy groups that have attempted to undermine policies intended to shift the economy toward renewable energy" according to The Intercept.[11]

Cloud Peak Bankruptcy

In May 2019, Cloud Peak Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the declining market for coal. This came after the company cut retiree benefits in October 2018, and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in December.[12] The company's assets, including the Antelope mine, will go up for auction in July 2019; however, Cloud Peak had tried to sell assets before declaring bankruptcy but was unable to find buyers.[13]

Cloud Peak Energy to ship more Powder River Basin coal to Asia

In June, 2011 Cloud Peak Energy signed a 10-year deal to ship basin coal to Asia from a port on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Cloud Peak Energy Inc. signed the deal with Westshore Terminals to ship coal through its Westshore Terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company shipped 3.3 million tons of coal through the terminal to Asian customers in 2010.[14] Cloud Energy operates the Antelope Coal Mine, Cordero Rojo Mine, Spring Creek Mine and Decker Mine in the Powder River Basin.

Cloud Peak wins bids to expand Antelope mine

On June 3, 2011, Cloud Peak Energy placed a successful bid for the West Antelope II North Coal Tract, which was previously nominated by the company’s Antelope Coal Mine. The bid for the lease sale was $297.7 million, or approximately $0.85/ton, based on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) estimate of 350 million mineable tons. The West Antelope II Lease by Application (LBA) is subject to pending legal challenges filed by environmental organizations against the BLM and the Secretary of the Interior.

President and CEO of CPE Colin Marshall said: “This tract is expected to more than double the reserves at the Antelope mine and, along with the additional coal within the State of Wyoming lease, add about 12 years of production.”[15]

On June 15, 2011, CPE successful bid for the West Antelope II South Coal Tract, which was previously nominated by the company’s Antelope mine. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates this tract contains approximately 56 million tons of mineable coal. CPE successfully won the lease sale with a bid of approximately $49.3 million, or $0.875/ton, based on the BLM’s estimate of 56 million mineable tons.

Not including the new PRB leases, at year-end 2010, Cloud Peak’s Antelope mine had an estimated 252 million tons of coal reserves, and the company had an estimated total reserve of 970 million tons of coal.[16]

Federal Court Rejects Challenge to 400-Million Ton Coal Lease in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin

On August 1, 2012 a Federal District court judge in Washington, D.C. ruled against environmental groups WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club and the Powder River Basin Resource Council’s challenge to the BLM's decision to lease more than 400 million tons of coal to Cloud Peak Energy, the current operator of the Antelope Coal Mine in Wyoming.

The case was the first in a series of lawsuits brought by the conservation groups over BLM’s coal leasing program in the Powder River Basin. The groups were disappointed with the decision but vowed to continue legal and other efforts to challenge BLM’s coal leases.[17]

Articles and resources

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  1. 1.0 1.1 NTEC Navajo Transitional Energy Completes Historic Transaction, Becomes Third Largest Coal Producer in the Country Navajo Transitional Energy Company Press Release, Oct 23, 2019
  2. NTEC NTEC expands its conscientious energy development efforts by acquiring three coal mines in the Powder River Basin NTEC Press Release, August 19, 2019
  3. "EIA table 9 major US coal mines 2018" accessed June 2020
  4. Mining Data Online, Antelope Mine, accessed April 2021.
  5. Wikipedia list of coal mines in the united states
  6. "Antelope Mine," Rio Tinto Energy America Website, accessed November 2009
  7. Rio Tinto, 2009 Annual Report: Production & reserves: Group mines: Energy", Rio Tinto website, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mead Gruver, "Feds Clear Way for Wyoming Coal Mine Expansion" Flathead Beacon, April 1, 2010.
  9. "The real story of US coal: inside the world's biggest coalmine" Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, November 10, 2014.
  10. Camille Erickson Bankrupt Cloud Peak finds new owner for its Wyoming mines Casper Star-TribuneAug 19, 2019
  12. Wyoming coal giant Cloud Peak files for bankruptcy, Casper Star Tribune, 10 May 2019.
  13. Cloud Peak may be on last month of mining coal, Casper Star Tribune, 18 June 2019.
  14. "Cloud Peak Energy to send more Powder River Basin coal to Asia" Jeremy Fugleberg, Star-Tribune, June 15, 2011.
  15. "CPE Successful Bidder for Latest PRB Tract" Coal Age, June 3, 2011.
  16. Lee Buchsbaum, "Cloud Peak Energy Prepares for the Long Run" Coal Age, June 24, 2011.
  17. "Federal Court Rejects Challenge to 400 Million Ton Coal Lease on Public Lands" EcoWatch, August 1, 2012.

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