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Mont. tribe signs coal deal with Wyo. company

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 CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) -- The chairman of the Crow Tribe has signed an
agreement giving a Wyoming mining company rights to lease an estimated 1.4 billion
tons of coal beneath the tribe's southeastern Montana reservation.
   Thursday's deal with Cloud Peak Energy involves more coal than the U.S. consumes
 annually.
   Cloud Peak would pay the tribe $10 million during an initial option period if
 the U.S. Department of Interior approves the agreement.
   The deal is aimed at reviving stalled efforts to expand mining on the impoverished
 2.2 million-acre reservation. Cloud Peak has plans to ship at least some
of the fuel overseas, as mining companies tap into export markets to offset flagging
 domestic demand for coal.
   An earlier attempt to build a $7 billion dollar coal-to-liquids plant on the
Crow reservation failed to attract financing.
   AP-WF-01-24-13 1929GMT

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