A Wyoming mining company has reached a tentative deal to mine an estimated 1.4 billion tons of coal on southeastern Montana's Crow Indian Reservation.
Cloud Peak Energy says it would pay the tribe up to $10 million if the deal is approved by the tribal legislature and the Department of Interior.
Agreements between the parties cover three coal deposits near Cloud Peak's existing Spring Creek mine. Tribal leaders have said the coal could be exported to Asian markets.
The announcement follows a stalled partnership between the Crow and an Australian company to build a $7 billion coal-to-liquids plant on the rural and impoverished reservation along the Wyoming border.
Tribal leaders hoped that plant would give an economic boost to their people, but it has not come to fruition.