BILLINGS, Mont. — Coal mining in Montana is up this year as the export market improves.

The Montana Coal Council says production between April and June was 1.5 million tons higher than the same period last year.

Total production through June was 14.95 million tons.

The Billings Gazette reports ( ) that Lighthouse Resources’ Decker Mine and Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek mines saw the biggest gains.

There is still declining domestic demand for coal, though the Energy Information Administration says it could edge out natural gas this year as a source for the nation’s electricity.

Coal accounted for more than 40 percent of the domestic electricity production less than a decade ago. This year, it is expected to make up 31.3 percent.

Information from: The Billings Gazette,

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