Australian company buys stake in coal mines

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- An Australian company says it is buying an interest in coal mines in Montana and Wyoming as interest increases in shipping the product overseas to feed growing energy demands in Asia.

Ambre Energy Limited announced on Thursday it was buying a 50 percent interest in the Decker Coal Company in southern Montana and the Black Butte Coal Company in Wyoming, along with an interest in other coal reserves in the region.

The company earlier this year bought an interest in a Columbia River shipping port near Longview, Wash.

Asian coal consumption has grown dramatically over the past decade in line with the region's booming economy. Domestic demand for the fuel has lagged in recent years amid stiff opposition from environmentalists and some members of Congress.