DECKER, Mont. — A pair of coal companies battling for full contro
l of split stakes at the Decker mine in the Powder River Basin through legal channels have seemingly settled their differences.
Cloud Peak Energy, based in Gillette, has agreed to sell its stake in the contested mine to Ambre Energy, based in Australia. The agreement calls for transfer of about $54 million to Cloud Peak ($57 million in Australian dollars) for its stake in the mine. However, the contract ups the cost to just under $61 million if Ambre delays payment past the first quarter of 2013.
Both companies have dropped pending litigation filed against each other last summer. Cloud Peak filed suit in July on grounds that a planned 2013 closure for the Decker mine was being overridden by the subsidiary of Australia-based Ambre Energy Limited managing the mine. Ambre claimed no such agreement was in place.
Cloud Peak also claimed Ambre has set itself up for "self-dealing transactions" designed to cut Cloud Peak out of Decker's future export-related profits through a possible expansion of exports to Asia. The export terminals in the Pacific Northwest are facing stiff headwinds from the public in the environmentally conscious area.
Even so, Ambre's infrastructure division is engaged in the permitting and pre-construction engineering phases of two export-infrastructure projects on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. And part of the deal reached between the companies includes an option for Cloud Peak to use 5 million metric tons per year of Ambre Energy's throughput capacity at Ambre's upcoming Millennium Bulk Terminals facility to be co-owned by Arch Coal.
Additionally, Cloud Peak will receive 1,200 acres of land and rail easements that will help the company develop a new mine near Decker. The Associated Press reported that the deal won't prevent layoffs of about 75 workers at the mine in the short-term. The deal should close in early 2013.
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