A Connecticut-based company has purchased Wyoming’s largest trona mine for $1.6 billion.

The multinational company FMC has owned the Green River trona mine for more than 60 years, but last fall, it announced that it would sell off the business to pay down debt. Tronox, a company that’s primarily involved in titanium mining, appears to have been the highest bidder.

In a conference call with investors, Tronox CEO Tom Casey indicated that the company is not planning major changes to operations at the mine, which is the largest employer in southwest Wyoming.

FMC Corporation

Wyoming’s biggest export is soda ash, which comes from trona mines in Sweetwater County. Last year, the trona industry produced 17 million tons of soda ash for which the state received nearly $90 million in various taxes and royalties. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov report, the industry has a dirty side, too. 

IRINA ZHOROV: Wyoming is used to superlatives. The biggest coal bed, the largest mine, the most wind! Here’s another:

[VIDEO PLAYING: The silver retreats of Wyoming, USA is home to the largest reserve of trona. ]

The federal royalty rate for trona was recently reduced from 6-percent to 4%. Industry has been pushing for royalty reductions for over a decade. But Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says if anything, the royalty should be increased.

“Our position has always been that minerals are a finite resource. Once they’re removed they’re gone and we have that one chance to tax those minerals and get that fair market value because that’s what’s going to help balance our budget, both at the state and national level,” says Morrison.