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Spring Creek Mine furlough ends after 4 months

Spring Creek Mine furlough ends after 4 months

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A mining dumper truck hauls coal at Cloud Peak Energy's Spring Creek strip mine near Decker, Montana, in April 2013.

Spring Creek miners are being called back to work after a four-month furlough by Navajo Transitional Energy Company.

NTEC announced Monday that it was recalling 73 employees as energy consumption normalized and summer energy demand picked up.

In April the company sent workers home as energy demand declined, particularly in the Midwest where manufacturing was suspended. Normal work schedules return Aug. 3.

Spring Creek Mine

Aerial view of the Cloud Peak Energy Spring Creek Mine near Decker.

"We are thrilled to be in a position to bring our Spring Creek team back so soon," said NTEC CEO Clark Mosely in a press release. "Spring Creek is well positioned to deliver the product to meet U.S. energy demand and aid in the economic recovery."

NTEC had received $5 million to $10 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program on May 8. At that point, businesses who put at least 75% of the PPP money to payroll and the remaining 25% on expenses like mortgage payments and utilities didn't have to pay the money back. It wasn't clear at the time whether the money would be used to put Montana and Wyoming miners back to work.

In addition to the Spring Creek furloughs, 57 workers at Antelope Mine northeastern Wyoming were furloughed in April. An additional 101 Antelope workers were furloughed or laid off in late May.

The mines had struggled since before October 2018 when former owner Cloud Peak Energy filed for bankruptcy. Once the primary energy source for U.S. power plants, thermal coal has been losing market share for several years to cheaper natural gas and renewable energy competitors. 

NTEC purchased the mines through bankruptcy sale last year, but its permitting was complicated in Montana, which required the Navajo-owned company to waive tribal sovereign immunity.

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