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Australians eye coal-to-liquids plant for Rock Springs, Wyo.

Australians eye coal-to-liquids plant for Rock Springs, Wyo.

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A company with coal mining and export assets is considering building a coal-to-motor fuels plant in Wyoming.

Ambre Energy, an Australia-based company that owns the Decker coal mine north of Sheridan, is eyeing Rock Springs as the potential site of a coal conversion plant.

“Rock Springs has a lot of potential,” company spokeswoman Liz Fuller said. “Conversations are happening.”

Fuller declined to give more detailed information about the potential Rock Springs site.

She said that Ambre’s plans for the plant are still in an “exploratory phase,” and that it would be hard to give any specific information about potential production, environmental footprint or employment there. The company is also investigating potential plant locations in Montana, Texas and Colorado.

But despite the lack of clear information, all signs point to Ambre’s interest in a potential conversion facility being more than a passing fancy.

Fuller said Ambre has met with Gov. Matt Mead’s office and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, a quasi-governmental agency purposed with diversifying Wyoming’s economy.

Mead spokesman Renny MacKay confirmed the meeting in an emailed statement.

Mead "is interested in projects that add value to Wyoming resources, especially those that would be based out of Wyoming and could bring jobs to our state," MacKay said. "He appreciated learning more about Ambre Energy and sharing thoughts on Wyoming’s potential."

WIA Executive Director Loyd Drain couldn't be reached Wednesday.

In another sign pointing toward beefed-up coal-to-gas efforts, the company in mid-March announced plans to appoint Jannie Grové as a managing director of subsidiary Ambre Fuels and move him to Salt Lake City.

Grové’s primary responsibilities, the company said at the time, would be in the field of coal-to-liquids development.

“The coal-to-liquids industry has operated successfully for over 80 years, and it makes sense to continue producing the fuels, chemicals and fertilizers we need from abundant and underutilized sources like waste coal, refinery byproducts, nonfood biomass, and municipal waste,” Grové said in a prepared statement.

The company also has plans to develop a similar plant in Australia.

If Ambre chooses Rock Springs for the facility, the project would become the second coal-to-liquids plant proposed in the state.

Houston-based DKRW has for years sought financing for a similar plant in near Medicine Bow. The company was due earlier this month to update its build schedule on file with the state, but withdrew the schedule and other documentats required by the state.

The state has since said the $1 billion-plus plant is out of compliance and gave DKRW officials until June to file new information, a deadline the company plans to meet.

Sasol Synfuels, a South African firm with a long history of coal-to-gasoline projects, bought 10,000 acres of land near Lake De Smet late last year. However the company said it had no immediate plans to build a facility.  

in 2011, Casper-based Nerd Gas said it was considering a coal gasification plant near the lake but later said it would look elsewhere. Representatives said they had sites elsewhere in the state for a plant to convert natural gas into gasoline.

Fuller, of Ambre Energy, said the company doesn’t have a timeline in place for choosing a plant site or building the facility.

“We are very interested in the opportunity,” she said. “We just don’t have specifics yet.”

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

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