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Montana mine warns of layoffs after judge blocks expansion

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Associated Press

A Montana coal company says more than 80 miners could be laid off in coming months after environmentalists successfully sued to halt its expansion.

Signal Peak Energy President Brad Hanson said in a court affidavit filed Monday that about 30 employees at the Bull Mountain mine north of Billings could run out of work by the end of October. Another 50 workers would run out of work by next March.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy last month blocked the company's plans to mine a 176-million-ton federal coal reserve adjacent to the mine. Molloy criticized government officials for downplaying the mine's potential climate change impacts and inflating its economic benefits.

Signal Peak says layoffs could be avoided if Molloy allows preliminary work within the federal leases to continue while the case is pending.

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