The Anaconda-Deer Lodge county commission has approved a 99-year lease agreement that could mean up to 100 jobs to the region. Premier Industries is the leasee of 93 acres of land on a Superfund site. The company wants to build a plant that will process the areas black slag heaps into proppant which is used in fracking oil and natural gas.

Sibanye Gold has stated once its purchase of Stillwater Mining closes, plans are to bring top management back to Montana. The new CEO would prefer they move out of the Colorado corporate office and come back to Billings or Columbus. Sibanye Gold's philosophy is for the corporate offices to be near the operations.

MSE Technology Applications Inc. has shed half its Butte workforce, and its remaining 25 engineers and technicians will move into Uptown Butte. A large portion of the debt on the industrial and technology complex has been sold to a Texas financial firm. E Capital Partners LLC, based in Fort Worth, has not announced plans for the complex.

A new beer bar and restaurant called The Brass Tap will open in Kalispell February. 6. The establishment features more than 160 varieties of beer on tap and in bottles or cans.

The eastside Wal-Mart in Great Falls plans a March 15 grand opening with 300 employees. Angie Powell is the store manager for the Wal-Mart located at 5320 10th Ave. S.

Montana's barley growers have been told that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, the region's largest buyers of their crop will reduce the number of purchase contracts by up to 60 percent. The reduction is due to an overabundance of barley harvested in recent years.

MonDak Ag Days Trade Show, set for March 2 and 3 at the Richland County Fair Event Center, will feature educational programs on pulse crops, fertilizer inputs, sugarbeet diseases and some entertainment by Texas Cowboy Chad Prather.

Montana's unemployment rate for December 2016 held steady, over the month, remaining at 4.0%. The U.S. rate increased slightly, moving to 4.7% from November's rate of 4.6%. Yellowstone County's unemployment rate was 3.5% during the same month.

Spectrum Aquatics of Missoula, a developer of high-quality competitive swim and commercial aquatics equipment for the past 40 years, has launched a new product - the ADA Portable Motion Trek BP 300 Lift. Built for durability, this pool lift is easy to use, saving deck space. Since the lift is mounted on wheels, it can be wheeled out of the way and stored when not in use. "We have transformed the feedback from customers into specific enhancements and created a new product that is built directly on what we have learned from our customer," said Nabil Khaled, Spectrum Aquatics Vice President Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.

MSU is the new owner of 51 head of cattle, which the university bought from MSU alumni Bob and Rita Dige of Double Tree Red Angus out of Sand Coulee. The herd includes 32 cows, 9 bred heifers and 10 replacement heifers. It is the first red Angus purebred cattle herd the university has ever owned, according to Darrin Boss, superintendent of MSU's Northern Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Havre. "Owning the herd is a tremendous opportunity for MSU and Montana," Boss said. "The purchase will enable MSU to conduct research on various issues such as heifer development, lifetime productivity, reproduction and profitability, among other economically relevant traits. This type of research will have an impact for Montana cattle ranchers for years to come."

The Board of Directors of KLJ Solutions Holding Co., parent organization of Kadrmas, Lee Jackson, Inc.(KLJ), headquartered in Bismarck, ND, announced the appointment of Dean Anagnost as chief executive officer (CEO).

AT welcomes Amanda Harris to oversee business in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. In her new role, Amanda will manage nearly 700 employees and more than 500 AT-owned retail locations, national retail partners and authorized resellers in this five-state territory.

Nationwide oil rig count jumped up by 20 in November with 288 active rigs - still 169 less than the same time last year. There were 471 drilling for oil - up 19 - and 116 were drilling for gas - up 1 - and one was listed as miscellaneous. Colorado has 20, North Dakota 34, Utah 5, Wyoming 16, Montana 0. As of Nov. 22 the price of a barrel of oil ranged from $31.39 to $40.89. The price of ND light was $38.54, Wyoming Sweet was $40.31 and Montana Sweet $38.67. Most recent oil prices can be seen at www.oph.hotlineprinting.com.

Quantum Energy, Inc. of Tempe, Ariz., a diversified energy holding company, announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Dominion Energy Processing Group, Inc., has successfully contracted for its proposed refinery site in the Stoughton, Saskatchewan area. The site is located in the Viewfield crude production area adjacent to the Crescent Point Energy gas plant and comprises 480 acres. The site is strategically located with Highway 33 access West to Regina (145km) and Highway 47 access north to Trans Canada Highway 1. Quantum Energy approached Billings a few years ago about locating a refinery here

WBI Energy Midstream, LLC, a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc. , announced that it will sell its 50 percent non-operating ownership interest in the Pronghorn natural gas processing plant near Belfield, ND.. WBI Energy Midstream co-owns the plant and associated natural gas and oil-gathering pipelines with Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. Tesoro Logistics Rockies, LLC, has agreed to purchase the plant and associated gathering lines for $200 million. WBI Energy Midstream acquired its interest in the Pronghorn facilities in May 2012 for $66 million. The company's share of the sale price would be approximately $100 million.

Montana Department of Transportation Director Mike Tooley told the Montana Contractors Association that it is delaying $144.5 million of road projects across the state as it faces a budget shortfall that could ultimately kill the contracts altogether, said association Executive Director Cary Hegreberg. Thirty projects across the state are affected. Of the $144.5 million total price tag, $130 million would come from federal sources and $14.5 million from state funds required as a match. The contracts are delayed until May.

Two industry groups ripped into the Bureau of Land Management for canceling oil and gas leases in Colorado's White River National Forest. West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Western Energy Alliance described the Obama Administration's action to cancel the leases as "shocking." "Retroactive cancelation of natural gas leases ten years after the lease contracts were signed is the final chapter of this Administration's punitive energy policy and assault on natural gas development on federal lands in western Colorado," said David Ludlam, executive director of WSCOGA. (Oil Patch Hotline)

North Dakota will gain more than $19.8 million in additional taxes from 44 three-mile wells proposed under Lake Sakakawea sought by Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. of Denver. The company estimates the extensions will increase the expected recover of middle Bakken wells to 1,046,999 barrels of crude oil; Three Forks first bench wells to 731,928 barrels; and Three Forks second bench wells to 469,654 barrels.

The Department of Interior through the Bureau of Land Management has extended the existing mineral withdrawal from the Sweet Grass Hills, in Toole and Liberty Counties, for 20 more years. BLM Havre Field Manager Stanley Jaynes says, this mineral withdrawal helps to preserve the unique natural and cultural resources of this cherished Montana landscape. The Sweet Grass Hills were designated as a Traditional Cultural Property in 1995 by the BLM in consultation with the Assiniboine, Blackfeet, Chippewa-Cree, Gros Ventre, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, in regard to their origins, culture history and the nature of the world. The withdrawal covers 19,686 acres. The new order extends the withdrawal to April 9, 2037. The Sweet Grass Hills were closed to fluid mineral leasing by the Hi Line Resource Management Plan in September, 2015.

MDU Resources Group Inc. announced that subsidiary MDU Construction Services Group Inc. recently sold its membership interests in Nevada Valley Solar Solutions II LLC to an affiliate of ORIX USA. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed. MDU Construction Services Group and Valley Electric Association, a member-owned electric cooperative, developed the 17.5-megawatt VEA Community Solar Project, which is one of the largest community solar projects in the U.S. Bombard Renewable Energy, an indirect subsidiary of MDU Construction Services Group, provided turnkey engineering, procurement and construction, installing more than 51,400 solar photovoltaic panels on an 80-acre site.

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