Board Blog: Coal Opportunities with the International Community

Board Blog: Coal Opportunities with the International Community

Title: Coal Opportunities with the International Community

Wyoming is home to more than 1.4 trillion tons of coal.  Since the PRB opened in the mid 1970’s, 10 billion tons of coal have been shipped, making Wyoming the largest coal producing state in the country. At its height, Wyoming was producing over 400 million short tons of coal per year. After the recent downturn, Wyoming is still providing 30% of this country’s electricity and distributes our product to 27 states across the country. [1]


While coal has been the bedrock of providing electricity in this country, the coal industry has also responded to growing international market demand. Asian markets in particular have huge potential for Wyoming coal. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have a fleet of coal-fired power plants as part of their energy mix but don’t have domestic coal sources. Japan and South Korea are committed to high-efficiency, low-emission technologies that favor PRB coal, not just for its heat or cost, but for its reactivity. Japan alone is building over 20 new state-of-the-art coal power plants and they are looking for competitive supply to import – such as the coal from the Powder River Basin.


In 2016 Governor Mead and Osamu Tsukamoto, President of JCOAL, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work in cooperation on coal research and the development of technologies and coal trade. This MOU has led to exciting developments between Wyoming and Japan, including the announcement from Kawasaki Heavy Industries that they plan to test their solid sorbent capture technology at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC).


In order to take advantage of coal export market opportunities, companies have looked to the West Coast. However, after years of Environmental Impact Reviews and permitting processes’, the West Coast states are building regulatory road blocks to keep this natural resource from being exported. Currently for neighboring states, the only port available for coal export is located in British Columbia.

There is still one export terminal currently working through the regulatory process in the United States, and that’s the Millennium Bulk Terminal project in Longview, Washington.


Millennium Bulk Terminals has been working with the regulatory process in Washington State for over six years.  The State of Washington’s Environmental Impact Study found no significant adverse impacts from the project and determined that the Millennium project will meet all Federal, State, and Local regulations. However, coal export opponents have created fears about coal dust and train traffic, which has led to BNSF Railway getting involved in current litigation efforts.  In addition to the legal efforts being taken by industry, Wyoming has joined 5 other states in filing a joint amicus brief contending that Washington is violating the commerce clause.


The Millennium team continues to be an active participant in the Longview community while working through the courts and regulatory processes. This project is set to bring hundreds of jobs to an industrial part of Washington. Southwest Washington and Wyoming have much in common – industrial communities, well-trained labor forces and people that love the outdoors. Wyoming and SW Washington citizens value the importance of family wage jobs, clean air, water and land, and thriving industries when creating and sustaining communities.


The Governor’s Office, Wyoming federal and state legislators, and industry organizations continue to provide regulatory encouragement and work to enforce the commerce clause so that Wyoming has opportunities to get our goods to market. Wyoming needs to continue to support access to high efficiency coal-based electricity generation around the globe; through both international partnerships and encouraging the development of export facilities.

[1] Wyoming Mining Association


About Ken Miller

Ken Miller, is a native of Tulare, South Dakota, and a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Ken was the President & CEO of Millennium Bulk Terminals Longview, LLC in Longview, Washington; an operating port which has submitted permits to construct a coal export terminal. These permits are now in an EIS review by Federal, State and Local governments.

Prior to Millennium, he worked at Arch Coal’s, Thunder Basin Coal Company in Wright, Wyoming for 23 years as a Department Manager, moving from Engineering to Operations, Maintenance, Project Development and Process Improvement. Before coming to Wyoming, Ken worked in both the Denver and Brisbane, Australia offices of Arco Coal Company, at the Climax Molybdenum Mine in Leadville, Colorado and the Glenharold (Lignite) Mine in Hazen, North Dakota.

Ken now works part-time as a consultant to the mining and maritime industries. He and his wife Kathy have two grown daughters and live in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Ken Miller (Member): President & CEO (Retired), Millennium Bulk Terminals Longview, LLC in Longview WA.