The Latest: Deal allows Montana coal mine to reopen for now

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a legal dispute that prompted a Navajo Nation-owned company to close one of the largest coal mines in the U.S. (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Montana officials say they have reached a deal that will allow one of the largest coal mines in the U.S. to reopen — for now — amid a legal dispute with its new owners from the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company took over the 275-worker Spring Creek mine this week after buying it from bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy.

The company shut down operations on Thursday, after Montana regulators insisted the company waive its immunity from future lawsuits as a tribal entity.

Company representatives objected and said they didn't want to give up their treaty rights.

A spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the two sides resolved the dispute late Friday after agreeing to a 75-day, limited waiver of immunity.

Spring Creek is Montana's largest coal mine. It produced almost 14 million tons of the fuel last year.


9:45 a.m.

Negotiations are due to resume Friday in a legal dispute between Montana regulators and a Navajo Nation-owned company that prompted the closure of one of the largest coal mines in the U.S.

State officials said they were optimistic on reaching a deal with the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.

The company took over the 275-worker Spring Creek Mine near the Montana-Wyoming border this week after acquiring it in a bankruptcy sale.

The company shut down the mine Thursday when state officials said they wouldn't approve operations unless the company waives its immunity as a sovereign tribal entity.

Waiving immunity would allow the company to be sued over future environmental violations or mine reclamation costs.

Company representatives say they won't agree to a full waiver of their treaty rights.

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