Officials in the US state of Montana plan to invite bids to mine coal at the massive state-owned Otter Creek reserve, located in the Powder River Basin.
The reserve, near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, is expected to contain more than 1.2 billion tonnes of coal, which is enough to meet the US coal requirements for a year, Associated Press reported.
The estimated cost of developing the mine is about $1.7bn.
The mine would create hundreds of jobs, aiding the struggling Northern Cheyenne economy, in addition to triggering more coal production in the region once infrastructure is ramped up.
The proposal, however, has received stiff opposition from a section of local people and landowners who oppose the industrialisation of ancestral properties.
The Montana Land Board’s decision on inviting a company to mine the reserve is due this September.