- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A company that has spent $6.4 million in state aid studying projects to find a clean and cost-effective use for North Dakota’s plentiful but low-grade coal has been granted another extension.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved an extension through December 2017 for Great Northern Project Development. The Houston company controls vast coal reserves in southwestern North Dakota and has been developing a massive coal mine complex near South Heart.

The company has been studying various lignite projects since 2001. It originally proposed construction of a power plant but also has studied a synthetic natural gas factory and a facility to turn lignite into liquid fuels.

Great Northern vice president Rich Voss says the company continues to look at all of its options for using lignite.

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