BISMARCK, N.D. — Industry officials say lignite production in North Dakota last year was the highest since 2009.

The Lignite Energy Council says the state’s five large lignite mines in west-central North Dakota produced 29.1 million tons of the coal in 2017. That’s up 1.4 million tons from 2016 and 1 million tons above the five-year average of 28.1 million tons.

Lignite Energy Council President Jason Bohrer says the region’s strong economy and a cold snap that gripped the Upper Midwest at the end of the year spurred lignite production.

The group says North Dakota’s seven lignite-based power plants serve more than 2 million families in North Dakota and surrounding states.

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