Australian Company Ambre Energy purchased interest in Decker Coal Co. and Black Butte Coal Co. last month, a sale with implications that could continue a pattern of the changing demand from domestic to international coal consumption.
Ambre Energy recently purchased interest in a shipping port near Longview, Washington along the Columbia River. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was quoted following the sale saying that he supports exporting as the future of coal in eastern Montana.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says that he does recognize a changing trend of coal production in the region.
“Governor Mead has seen that a small but growing percentage of Powder River coal is now being exported. He also recognizes that in a global marketplace commodities, from beef to coal, will see increased demand. Right now the economies in Asia are growing and so they need energy,” Renny McKay, spokesman for Mead, said in an email to Sheridan Media.
China relies on coal as its main energy source, and Asian markets as a whole use an estimated 140 million tons of coal per year. Powder River Basin companies have voiced their goals of shifting to Asian markets to fill that demand.
“These are the decisions of companies and what they do with their products is up to the private businesses," reads Mckay's statement for Mead. "He continues to view coal as an important resource given how many jobs it creates in Wyoming and America as well as how significant it is for the production of power in the United States.”
Domestically, coal companies in Wyoming and Montana have been hit by reduced demand that comes from environmentalist and congressional opposition to the energy source. Groups have pushed natural gas and wind power as preferred energy source to coal in terms of power plants.
Wyoming is the number one coal producer in the United States, Montana ranks fifth. The Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming is the leading source of coal in the U.S.