GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A judge has approved the sale of three mines in Wyoming and Montana owned by a bankrupt coal company.

Farmington, New Mexico-based Navajo Transitional Energy Co. will pay Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy Corp. $15.7 million under the deal approved Monday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Delaware.

The Gillette News-Record reports the company owned by the Navajo Nation also will assume Cloud Peak debts.

Cloud Peak owns the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in northeast Wyoming and the Spring Creek mine in southeast Montana. The sale also includes Cloud Peak's Sequatchie Valley reclamation project in Tennessee.

Cloud Peak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 10.

Campbell County Commissioner Mark Christensen says the sale is encouraging because the county might be able to collect $8.3 million in unpaid taxes.

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