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Coal dust in Colstrip

A hauler truck transports transports coal from the Rosebud mine to the Colstrip power plant in Colstrip on Jan. 30.

BILLINGS — State regulators have given final approval to a 70-million ton expansion of a southeastern Montana coal mine that provides fuel to the Colstrip power plant.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday's approval of the 10-square-mile expansion would allow the Rosebud mine to stay open until the late 2030s.

Officials say mining will not be allowed within a small portion of the expansion area to prevent damage to area water supplies.

Separate approval is still needed from the U.S. Department of Interior.

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Mine owner Westmoreland Coal Co., which is based in Englewood, Colorado, recently emerged from bankruptcy after selling off some of its assets.

Colstrip is one of the largest coal-burning plants in the Western U.S.

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