Cloud Peak Energy Inc.  (CLD)
Other Ticker:  
    Sector  Energy    Industry Coal Mining
   Industry Coal Mining
   Sector  Energy

Cloud Peak Energy Inc.

Business Description

We are one of the largest producers of coal in the United States of America (“U.S.”) and the PRB, based on our 2017 coal sales. We operate some of the safest mines in the coal industry. According to the most current MSHA data, we have one of the lowest employee all injury incident rates among the largest U.S. coal producing companies. We currently operate solely in the PRB, the lowest cost region of the major coal producing regions in the U.S., where we own and operate three surface coal mines: the Antelope Mine, the Cordero Rojo Mine, and the Spring Creek Mine.

Our Antelope Mine and Cordero Rojo Mine are located in Wyoming and our Spring Creek Mine is located in Montana. Our mines produce subbituminous thermal coal with low sulfur content, and we sell our coal primarily to domestic and foreign electric utilities. Thermal coal is primarily consumed by electric utilities and industrial consumers as fuel for electricity generation.

Our reportable segments include Owned and Operated Mines and Logistics and Related Activities.

Coal Characteristics

In general, coal of all geological compositions is characterized by end use either as thermal or metallurgical. Heat value and sulfur content are the most important variables in the economic marketing and transportation of thermal coal. We mine, process, and market low sulfur content, subbituminous thermal coal, the characteristics of which are described below. Because we currently operate only in the PRB, which does not have metallurgical coal, we produce only thermal coal.

Heat Value

The heat value of coal is commonly measured in Btus. Subbituminous coal from the PRB has a typical heat value that ranges from 8,000 to 9,500 Btus. Subbituminous coal from the PRB is used primarily by electric utilities and by some industrial customers for steam generation. Coal found in other regions in the U.S., including the eastern and Midwestern regions, tends to have a higher heat value than coal found in the PRB, other than lignite coal which has lower heat value than subbituminous coal but is typically only used to supply coal to utilities that are directly adjacent to the mine.

Sulfur Content

Federal and state environmental regulations, including regulations that limit the amount of sulfur dioxide that may be emitted as a result of combustion, have affected and may continue to affect the demand for certain types of coal.

The sulfur content of coal can vary from seam to seam and within a single seam. The concentration of sulfur in coal affects the amount of sulfur dioxide produced in combustion. Coal-fired power plants can comply with sulfur dioxide emissions regulations by burning coal with low sulfur content, blending coals with various sulfur contents, purchasing emission allowances on the open market and/or using sulfur-reduction technology, such as scrubbers, which can reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by up to 95% or more.

Surface Mining

All of our mines are surface mining operations utilizing both dragline and truck-and-shovel mining methods. Surface mining is used when coal is found relatively close to the surface. Surface mining typically involves the removal of topsoil and drilling and blasting the overburden with explosives. The overburden is then removed with draglines, trucks, shovels, and dozers. Trucks and shovels then remove the coal. The final step involves replacing the overburden and topsoil after the coal has been excavated, reestablishing vegetation into the natural habitat and making other changes designed to provide local community benefits. We typically recover 90% or more of the economic coal seam for the mines we operate.

Coal Preparation and Blending

In almost all cases, the coal from our mines is crushed and shipped directly from our mines to the customer. Typically, no other preparation is needed for a saleable product. However, coals of various sulfur and ash contents can be mixed or “blended” to meet the specific combustion and environmental needs of customers. All of our coal can be blended with coal from other coal producers. Spring Creek Mine’s location and the high Btu content of its coal make its coal better suited than our other coal for export and transportation to U.S. coal customers on the Great Lakes for blending by the customer with coal sourced from other locations to achieve a suitable overall product.


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