BILLINGS — A Montana coal mine has laid off dozens of workers and is cutting production amid an industry-wide slowdown that’s starting to impact the largest coal-producing region of the United States.
Signal Peak Energy announced Wednesday that 58 employees were laid off from its Bull Mountain Mine south of Roundup. That’s about 20 percent of the workforce at the 300-employee underground mine.
Signal Peak President Brad Hanson blamed poor market conditions. Hanson says he won’t sell coal for a loss and risk crashing the company.
Montana and Wyoming combined produce almost half the coal in the U.S., primarily from the Powder River Basin along the states’ shared border.
Other companies in the region also have been preparing to scale back. Competition from cheap natural gas has eroded coal’s once-dominant role providing fuel for power plants.