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BNSF-served Montana mine tests market in China

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Signal Peak Energy, an expanded coal mining operation near Roundup, Mont., with a new 35-mile link to the BNSF Railway mainline, has confirmed reports that it will send an undetermined number of coal cargoes to China on a trial basis by the end of this year.

It has been unofficially reported that two Panamax cargoes, 60,000 to 70,000 deadweight tons, and a Capesize cargo, 125,000 tons, could move through Vancouver, B.C., by year-end.

Don Drabant, president of the marketing company Global Coal Sales Group, which represents Signal Peak, said discussions were under way with South American markets as well as Asian rim countries.

Signal Peak, formerly the Bull Mountain coal mine, expects to increase production from few hundred thousand tons a year to around 14 million tons a year by 2011.

The new operation is owned by the joint venture of Ohio utility First Energy Corp. and Boich Companies. The mine produces 10,300 Btu bituminous coal with 0.55% sulfur content that is said to combine the advantages of eastern U.S. coal and low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal.

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