The Crow Tribe approved Cloud Peak’s plan to develop 1.4 billion tons worth of coal deposits in the northern Powder River Basin in January. Approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs has now been received.
The agreement provides for exploration and exclusive options to lease three coal deposits on the Crow Indian Reservation in southeast Montana, near Cloud Peak’s Spring Creek mine.
Under the deal, the Wyoming-based miner will pay the tribe up to $10 million for an initial five-year term, as well as adjustable royalty rates and an extra 8c-15c per ton of coal mined.
Two extension periods could extend the contract through 2035 if certain conditions are met.
“We are pleased to receive the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ approvals for our agreements with the Crow Tribe,” Cloud Peak Energy’s president and chief executive officer Colin Marshall said.
Marshall said Cloud Peak would offer preferential hiring, training and promotion for tribe members and other community support, including scholarships and preference for Indian-certified contractors.
“We have already begun preliminary work in support of exploration, including the opening of a project office at Crow Agency and engagement with Tribal landowners.
“I am pleased that the $75,000 in annual scholarships and option payments will bring immediate benefits to members of the Tribe at the start of what will be a long term partnership as we seek to develop the Crow Tribe’s natural resources,” Marshall commented.
The Crow Tribe has 13,000 members and occupies a 2.2 million-acre reservation in the coal-rich region.
Crow Tribal Executive Branch chair Darrin Old Coyote thanked government agencies for their prompt approval of the deal.
“The tribe’s large coal resources offer significant potential for good-paying jobs and a diversified source of revenue for essential tribal government services. I look forward to continuing to work with Cloud Peak Energy on this important project, which is a priority for the Crow Tribe’s future.”
US representative Steve Daines said the agreement would benefit the state of Montana as well as the company and the tribe.
“This project holds tremendous potential for creating good-paying Montana jobs, growing our state’s economy and creating new opportunities for the Crow Tribe,” Daines said.
“I’m also excited to hear of Cloud Peak Energy’s investment in education and job training on the Crow Reservation, which demonstrates a long-term commitment to the Crow Tribe’s future.
“This partnership demonstrates how we can work together to responsibly develop our natural resources and promote economic development in our tribal communities and across Montana,” Daines concluded.
Cloud Peak owns and operates three surface coal mines in the Powder River Basin.