Reclamation Complete at Big Sky Coal Mine Area A

Department of Environmental Quality
  • November 14 2022

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has released the final bond for Big Sky Coal Mine Area A. Reclamation on Area A, the final section to be restored, marks the completion of the entire coal mine restoration for Peabody Energy, making Peabody the first coal mine operator to complete full reclamation in the state since 1978. The land will now be returned to ranching and agricultural land use.

Reclamation returns the mine to its pre-mining conditions and releases the land for reuse. The coal mine near Colstrip, Mont. was first permitted in 1984 and ceased mining in the early 2000’s. Reclamation work was completed in 2011. Final bond release occurs when all four reclamation phases are complete, including removal of buildings and following 10 years of established vegetation growth. DEQ reviews the mining location to ensure it meets stringent reclamation standards. The Richard Springs Fire burned large portions of Area A in August of 2021. DEQ waited until spring of 2022 to ensure vegetation regrowth was occurring in the burned areas to meet reclamation requirements.

Each mine has a reclamation plan that determines how the land should be reclaimed for reuse. Big Sky Coal Mine Area A’s reclamation plan calls for the land to support livestock grazing. Peabody Energy plans to sell the land back to ranchers and farmers for agricultural use.

“One of DEQ’s primary roles is to ensure the land is reclaimed after mining in a way that is protective of human health and the environment,” said DEQ Mining Bureau Chief Dan Walsh. “Getting the land to a reusable state is our ultimate goal. This final bond release is a successful demonstration that mine reclamation can be achieved.”

For more information on the reclamation phases and the Big Sky Mine, watch a recent video from DEQ at: