Red Lodge is an area in south-central Montana where coal developers are maneuvering to build new coal mines. Management Energy Inc., a California coal startup, has amassed leases on more than 10 square miles of land in the area. The company is partnering on the project with Tennessee coal entrepreneur John Baugues Jr.
Also being eyed for new coal mines by John Bagues’s Montana Coal Ventures LLC are parcels of land near the small town of Bearcreek, Montana. The area is the site of a 1943 underground mine fire that killed 75 workers - only three of the workers that were in the mine that day escaped, making it the worst coal mine disaster in Montana's history. The Red Lodge cemetery contains a memorial. The mines were shut down shortly thereafter, leaving behind underground reserves estimated at a billion tons.
In addition to Red Lodge and Bearcreek, Montana Coal Ventures is considering a coal mining site in Grove Creek, near the Wyoming border.
Red Lodge is among the sites that Montana’s pro-coal governor, Democrat Brian Schweitzer, is opening up for new coal projects in the state. The 2009 opening of the Signal Peak Mine north of Billings was Montana’s first in three decades. Arch Coal recently paid more than $70 million for rights to mine a 731-million-on reserve near Red Lodge. Next to Arch’s leases, Montana’s Land Board is seeking bids on 532 million tons of publicly owned coal in the Powder River Basin.
As of September 2019, it appears that the bid to develop a coal mine at Red Lodge has been abandoned.
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- Matthew Brown,"Coal mines eyed near Red Lodge, Bridger" AP Press, February 27, 2010
- The Darkest Hour: A Comprehensive Account of the Smith Mine Disaster of 1943, 2nd ed, by Gary D. Robson and Fay Kuhlman (2003). ISBN 0965960919