Australian coal co. names Wyo. lawmaker to board

December 19, 2011 - 6:50 PM

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming state lawmaker has become a director of an Australian coal company that wants to mine Powder River Basin coal.

Republican Rep. David Miller, of Riverton, sold his Campbell County mineral rights to Sydney-based County Coal Ltd. for $200,000 on March 11. Miller, a geologist, became a director of the company on April 29, the Gillette News Record (http://bit.ly/rrhxjt ) reported Sunday.

He now holds 1 million shares in the company and will get 3 percent royalty payments on coal mined in the basin, one of the richest coal sources in the United States.

"They asked me if I would be a director of the company," Miller said. "I said 'I think I can.'"

Miller said he will recuse himself from any votes in the Legislature that directly affect County Coal projects, but he said votes on coal issues in general aren't as clear cut.

County Coal didn't respond to the newspaper's request for more information about its Powder River Basin plans.

According to a prospectus released before an initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange, County Coal also owns the Shell Creek Project between Lake DeSmet and Interstate 90 in Johnson County as well as options on other projects. It doesn't plan to mine its holdings itself but to contract other companies to run operations.

If it can secure permits and extract coal, the company plans to ship it to Asia.

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Information from: The Gillette News Record - Gillette, http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com