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BLM rejects biggest Wyo. coal bid in 7 years

BLM rejects biggest Wyo. coal bid in 7 years

March 1st, 2012 by MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press in News

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday rejected the biggest total bid it has received for Wyoming coal reserves in more than seven years, saying it was below the reserves' estimated fair market value.

A subsidiary of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. bid $362 million for slightly more than 400 million tons of Powder River Basin coal reserves. BTU Western Resources was the lone bidder for the South Porcupine Coal Tract next to Peabody's North Antelope Rochelle Mine.

The BLM keeps its fair market value figure confidential. However, BTU Western Resources' bid of 90 cents per ton was less than the winning bid of $1.35 per ton at the last Wyoming coal lease sale in December.

The winning bids in the last three BLM coal lease sales in Wyoming all have been at least 95 cents per ton.

Few Wyoming coal lease sales are truly competitive. They seldom attract more than one sealed bid. The BLM usually accepts the lone bid it receives, but not always.

Bids submitted for one Powder River Basin tract were rejected twice in 2007 and 2008 before one was finally accepted in 2009, BLM spokeswoman Ashlie Fahrer said.

"So it could take a few years for these to go through," Fahrer said Wednesday.

Wednesday's bid was the largest overall bid since a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. bid a record $611 million for 719 million tons of Wyoming coal reserves in 2004.

Since last March, the BLM has sold the right to mine 982 million tons of federal coal in Wyoming for slightly more than $1 billion. The state of Wyoming and the federal government split the revenue about equally.