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BNI Coal has commissioned a new dragline at the Center Mine

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Dave Thompson
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BNI Coal has commissioned a new dragline at the Center Mine.

"This is BNI's fourth dragline," said BNI General Manager Mike Heger.

The dragline — dubbed "Legacy" — replaces a 45 year old unit. The company spent $31 million on it.

"This is for the future of the mine," BNI vice-president Pat Cutshall told a gathering of mine employees. "This will sustain and enhance not only jobs, but also the local, regional and North Dakota economies."

BNI's parent company, Allete Energy of Duluth, also has wind farms, and owns a high voltage direct current power line.

"We believe that all types of energy are important, and for different reasons," Cutshall said in an interview. "They all have their place. We invested $31 million in this, and we don't do it lightly. We're looking into the future."

The Center Mine supplies lignite to the Milton R. Young Power Station. That’s where the carbon capture project – dubbed “Project Tundra” is being developed.

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