Spring Creek coal mine

From Global Energy Monitor

Spring Creek Mine is a surface coal mine, operated by Navajo Transitional Energy Company, and owned by the Navajo Nation, producing 13.7 million short tons per annum, in Decker, Montana, United States.


The map below shows the location of the mine, near Decker, in Big Horn county, Montana.

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Mine Details

  • Operator: Navajo Transitional Energy Company
  • Owner: Navajo Nation
  • Location: Decker, Big Horn county, Montana, United States
  • GPS coordinates: 45.0497, 106.7731
  • Production: 13,768,055 short tons (2018)
  • Mineable Reserve: 329 million tons permitted with 189.9 million tonnes proven and probable[1][2]
  • Type of coal: Subbituminous
  • Mine type: Surface
  • Mine depth: 150 feet
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees: 185
  • Start Year: 1981

Expansion Details

  • Start Year: 2020
  • Capacity: 5 mtpa (18 mtpa total)


The mine was previously owned by Rio Tinto Energy America. In 2008 Rio Tinto spun the most significant of its Powder River Basin coal assets — including the Spring Creek Mine — off into Cloud Peak Energy, a company in which Rio Tinto has a 48.3% stake.[3][4][5]

In March 2019, a U.S. federal magistrate ruled that Cloud Energy's plans to expand the mine (adding 120 million tons of reserves) were insufficient, because they failed to adequately consider the potential climate change impacts of expanding the mine.[6]

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.[7] Cloud Energy operates the Antelope Coal Mine, Cordero Rojo Mine, Spring Creek Mine, Decker Mine, and Jacobs Ranch Mine in the Powder River Basin.

The workforce was furloughed for four months during the Covid 19 pandemic.


In March 2020, the state of Montana approved an expansion of the mine, which may increase capacity to 18 million tons per annum, until 2031.[8] A year later, in February 2021, a U.S. District judge blocked the proposed expansion.

Articles and resources


  1. John T. Boyd Company,Powder River Basin Coal Resource Cost Study, September 2011
  2. Spring Creek Mine, Mining Data Solutions, accessed November 2020
  3. Rio Tinto, 2009 Annual Report: Production & reserves: Group mines: Energy", Rio Tinto website, 2010.
  4. Spring Creek Mine, Cloud Peak Energy website, accessed June 2019.
  5. Spring Creek Mine, Mining Data Online, accessed June 2019.
  6. Spring Creek Mine Victory, Montana Environmental Information Center, 15 Mar. 2019.
  7. "Cloud Peak Energy to send more Powder River Basin coal to Asia" Jeremy Fugleberg, Star-Tribune, June 15, 2011.
  8. "Newly approved mine expansion could provide coal, and jobs, well into 2031" billingsgazette.com, March 30, 2020

Related GEM.wiki articles

External links