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Cloud Peak Energy and Crow Tribe of Indians have lease and exploration agreements approved

Oilfield Technology,

The US Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has approved the option to lease and exploration agreements between Big Metal Coal, a subsidiary of Cloud Peak Energy, and the Crow Tribe of Indians.

The approval comes almost five months after Cloud Peak Energy and the Crow Tribe signed the lease and exploration agreements. The terms provide for exclusive options to lease and develop up to an estimated 1.4 billion t of in-place northern Powder River Basin coal on the Crow Indian Reservation in southeast Montana. The 13,000 Tribe members occupy a 2.2 million acre reservation.

Cloud Peak Energy paid the Tribe US$ 1.5 million upon the BIA approval, as provided in the agreements, and will fund US$ 75,000 in college and vocational scholarships annually, beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The company has now paid a total of US$ 3.75 million in option payments to the Crow Tribe and will make additional payments during the initial five year period that could bring total payments to US$ 10 million.

Upon any future exercise and required regulatory approval of a lease or leases, and development of mining, Big Metal Coal Co. LLC will provide preferential hiring, training, and promotion to qualified Indians and will make bonus, production tax and royalty payments to the Tribe.

The coal deposits are in the vicinity of Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek mine and Youngs Creek project in Montana and Wyoming, respectively, and would potentially be developed as part of a larger mining complex with these properties.

“We are pleased to receive the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ approvals for our agreements with the Crow Tribe,” said Colin Marshall, Cloud Peak Energy’s president and CEO. “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 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.”

“I want to thank the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other Interior Department agencies for their thorough review and prompt approval of the agreements with Cloud Peak Energy,” said Darrin Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow Tribal executive branch. “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.”

Adapted from press release by Samuel Dodson.

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