Key Wyoming coal producer goes up for sale

CASPER, Wyo. – A key producer of coal in Wyoming is up for sale.

Rio Tinto Energy America operates three coal mines on the Wyoming side of the Powder River Basin, and directly employs about 1,562 workers in Wyoming. The company also operates mines in Colorado and Montana.

Its parent company, Rio Tinto P-L-C, announced today (Thursday) that it intends to explore the possible sale of Rio Tinto Energy America.

Rio Tinto P-L-C recently announced its acquisition of Canadian aluminum producer Alcan. With that move, the company said it's reviewing the option of selling part or all or its U.S. businesses.

Shares of Rio Tinto P-L-C climbed today (Thursday) after Australian coal giant BHP Billiton Limited. confirmed it made an
offer for the company.

Rio Tinto announced on its web site that it had rejected the bid, which offered three BHP Billiton shares for every one Rio Tinto share. The offer values Rio Tinto at about $110 billion.