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Cloud Peak Energy’s Antelope Mine recognized for “most exemplary mining operations and reclamation achievements”
GILLETTE, Wyo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cloud Peak Energy announced today that the Company’s Antelope Mine, located in northeastern Wyoming, received the 2014 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Award from U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The mine was recognized for its innovative techniques to promote native plant species and control cheatgrass, an introduced, invasive, and undesirable plant species.
“This award is a testament to our employees at Antelope Mine and their commitment to pioneering reclamation practices,” said Colin Marshall, Cloud Peak Energy’s President and CEO. “We recognize that mining is a temporary use of the land and are very proud of our long-standing environmental record of returning land that has been mined back in as good or better condition than when we began. Our reclamation efforts will continue to be an important part of the mining process.”
“The work at Antelope Mine to control cheatgrass has been an ongoing effort and involved significant research and development,” said Steve Cowan, Antelope Mine General Manager. “We hope the techniques developed here will help those in the mining and energy sectors as well as agriculture and others to continue to improve reclamation around the country.”
Through innovative husbandry practices and custom seeding techniques, Antelope Mine has effectively restored reclamation areas dominated by cheatgrass. This technology is applicable to both reclaimed and native lands. Antelope Mine has successfully transformed over 400 acres of cheatgrass-dominated lands into sustainable native perennial stands that achieve the post-mining land use goal of providing for livestock grazing and wildlife use.
“The reclamation practices developed at the Antelope Mine have landscape scale application to reclaimed and native grassland environments where cheatgrass has become the dominant and undesirable plant species,” said Kyle Wendtland, Antelope Mine Environmental Manager. “We believe that potential long-term benefits for species like sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse exist by taking sound, science-based steps to develop strategies improving habitat on reclamation and native grassland environments.”
Cheatgrass is not very palatable for domestic livestock and wildlife, reduces habitat value, and has a preference for establishment on disturbed sites. Cheatgrass has infested an estimated 50 to 53 million acres on the Western landscape and has made it a challenge to achieve consistent native grass-dominated communities on disturbed land surfaces.
The husbandry practice that has been developed at Antelope Mine uses an implement specifically designed by Antelope Mine to mechanically remove cheatgrass, stimulate establishment of existing perennial species, and develop a diverse, native-plant community without the risk and ecological setbacks that herbicides, re-farming, and prescribed burning pose. The resulting plant community and successional process is sustainable and able to achieve bond release.
Reclamation stands established with sustainable native-plant communities create a diverse landscape and improve habitat for elk, mule deer, and antelope. Long-term benefits also include the means to improve habitat for sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. The reclamation efforts at Antelope Mine demonstrate Cloud Peak Energy’s voluntary commitment to enhance the science of reclamation and improve biodiversity. High-quality land reclamation at Antelope Mine has been successfully completed on approximately 4,050 acres.
In June 2013, Antelope Mine received the prestigious State of Wyoming Reclamation Award from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Land Quality Division also for its techniques to prevent cheatgrass. Antelope Mine reclamation experts have worked with the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, industry groups, and others to share best practices for reclamation.
In 2013, Antelope Mine sold approximately 31.4 million tons of coal, making it the fourth-largest coal mine in the U.S. last year. Coal mined from Antelope Mine is primarily shipped to electric utilities in the western, midwestern, and southeastern United States. The mine has been recognized for its accomplishments for both safety and environmental stewardship.
For photos of reclamation work at Antelope Mine, click here.
About Cloud Peak Energy®
Cloud Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE:CLD) is headquartered in Wyoming and is one of the largest U.S. coal producers and the only pure-play Powder River Basin coal company. As one of the safest coal producers in the nation, Cloud Peak Energy mines low sulfur, subbituminous coal and provides logistics supply services. The company owns and operates three surface coal mines in the PRB, the lowest cost major coal producing region in the nation. The Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines are located in Wyoming, and the Spring Creek mine is located in Montana. In 2013, Cloud Peak Energy shipped 86.0 million tons from its three mines to customers located throughout the U.S. and around the world. Cloud Peak Energy also owns rights to substantial undeveloped coal and complimentary surface assets in the Northern PRB, further building the company’s long-term position to serve Asian export and domestic customers. With approximately 1,700 total employees, the company is widely recognized for its exemplary performance in its safety and environmental programs. Cloud Peak Energy is a sustainable fuel supplier for approximately four percent of the nation’s electricity.