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GILLETTE — It took more than 20 years, but the North Antelope Rochelle mine has now shipped more than 1 billion tons of coal.

Peabody Energy announced that the mine shipped its 1 billionth ton on Thursday as part of a shipment to the Associated Electric Cooperative's New Madrid Generating Station in Missouri. Associated Electric receives about 9.5 million tons of coal each year from the mine.

North Antelope mine opened in 1983, and the Rochelle mine began producing in 1985.

The two were combined in 1999 and ship almost 83 million tons of coal annually, Peabody Energy said. That's about 7 percent of the nation's annual coal production.

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