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Expansion of Colorado's largest coal mine clears a hurdle

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Posted at 12:34 PM, Dec 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-03 14:34:32-05

DENVER (AP) -- The federal government has removed one obstacle to expanding Colorado's largest coal mine, providing a glimmer of hope to the state's flagging coal industry.

But the expansion it isn't a done deal -- further court challenges are likely.

Arch Coal Inc. wants to extend its underground West Elk Mine into untapped federal coal reserves in Gunnison County.

Last month, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a ruling that would clear the way for the company to build temporary roads on more than 30 square miles of largely untouched national forest land to facilitate the expansion.

Arch still needs further approvals before it could build roads or expand. And at least one environmental group says it's willing to renew a 3-year legal battle to try to block the plan.

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