Westmoreland Completes Purchase of Montana Power Coal Business

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from Westmoreland Coal Company

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Westmoreland Coal
 Company (Amex:   WLB) ("Westmoreland Coal") and Montana Power Company
 (NYSE:   MTP) announced today the closing of the purchase of the coal business
 of Montana Power by Westmoreland Coal's wholly owned subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Mining LLC ("Westmoreland Mining") for $138 million in cash, before closing
 adjustments.  The coal operations acquired from Montana Power include Western
 Energy Company, Colstrip, Montana and Northwestern Resources Co., Jewett,
 Texas, which combined, produced approximately 19 million tons of coal in 2000.
 Western Energy and Northwestern Resources supply coal to adjacent, low-cost
 electrical generating units that have the necessary pollution control
 technologies in place to meet today's stringent environmental standards.
     Western Energy owns and operates the Rosebud Mine located in the Northern
 Powder River Basin.  Approximately 90% of Western's current production is sold
 under long-term contracts to the owners of the four-unit, mine-mouth Colstrip
 power plant.  In 2000, the Rosebud Mine produced and sold 10.4 million tons of
 coal.
     Northwestern Resources, which owns and operates the Jewett Mine in Central
 Texas, produced and sold 8.2 million tons of lignite last year.  Production
 from the Jewett Mine is sold under a long-term contract to Reliant Energy, the
 owner of the two-unit Limestone power plant adjacent to the mine.
     "We are delighted to close this transaction, particularly at this time of
 increased attention to the energy needs of our country," said Christopher K.
 Seglem, Westmoreland Coal Company's Chairman, President and CEO.
 "Northwestern and Western Energy are outstanding operations which match
 attractive coal assets with long-term sales contracts that we believe will
 produce sustainable, long-term profits and highly attractive cash flows,
 especially given Westmoreland's ability to apply its NOLs (tax loss
 carryforwards) to the earnings that we expect from Westmoreland Mining.  We
 welcome these employees and look forward to serving the customers of Western
 Energy and Northwestern Resources.  Likewise, we have enormous respect for
 Montana Power Company's decision to focus all its efforts on implementation of
 a forward-looking vision in the telecommunications business.  We wish them
 great success."
     Bob Gannon, Montana Power and TOUCHAMERICA's chairman and chief executive
 said, "We are three-quarters of the way toward transforming Montana Power into
 TOUCHAMERICA, our growing broadband information transport company.  We are
 meeting our goals of receiving good, solid values for our energy businesses,
 and of finalizing transactions with well-respected companies.  We wish
 Westmoreland every success in the future, as well."
     In a separate transaction, Westmoreland Mining is acquiring the coal
 assets of Knife River Corporation which include mining operations in Montana
 and North Dakota.  Westmoreland Coal's wholly owned power development
 subsidiary, Westmoreland Power, Inc., is acquiring certain rights to the
 inactive Gascoyne Mine in North Dakota.  The Knife River Corp. closing is
 expected to be announced shortly.
 
     Westmoreland Coal Company, headquartered in Colorado Springs, is the
 oldest independent coal company in the United States.  Westmoreland has
 produced coal in Montana since 1974 through its subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Resources, Inc., which owns the Absaloka Mine in the Northern Powder River
 Basin.  In addition to its coal operations, the Company has interests in four
 operating independent power projects held by its wholly owned subsidiary,
 Westmoreland Energy, Inc.  The Company also recently announced that it is
 pursuing the development of a new 500MW lignite-fired power project in North
 Dakota.  The Company also holds a 20% interest in Dominion Terminal
 Associates, a coal shipping and terminal facility in Newport News, Virginia.
 Westmoreland is implementing a growth strategy dedicated to meeting America's
 dual goals of low-cost power and a clean environment through the acquisition
 and development of complementary, niche opportunities in coal, power and other
 segments of the energy sector.
     The Montana Power Company is a diversified investor-owned electric and
 natural gas utility that is transforming itself into a national broadband
 information transport company under TOUCHAMERICA, for now its
 telecommunications subsidiary.  TOUCHAMERICA's fiber-optic network, which will
 reach 26,000 route miles this year, employs the most advanced
 telecommunications technology available today.  TOUCHAMERICA and The Montana
 Power Company are based in Butte, Montana.
 
     As to Westmoreland Coal Company:  Certain statements in this press release
 which are not historical facts or information are  "forward-looking
 statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933
 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including, but not
 limited to, the information set forth in Management's Discussion and Analysis
 of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.  Any statements contained
 herein that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be
 forward-looking statements.  For example, words such as "may," "will,"
 "should," "estimates," "predicts," "potential," "continue," "strategy,"
 "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "intends," and similar
 expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.  Such
 forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and
 other factors which may cause the actual results, levels of activity,
 performance or achievements of the Company, or industry results, to be
 materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance
 or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Such
 factors include, among others, the following:  general economic and business
 conditions; the ability of the Company to implement its business strategy; the
 Company's access to financing; the Company's ability to successfully identify
 new business opportunities; the Company's ability to achieve anticipated cost
 savings and profitability targets; changes in the industry; competition; the
 Company's ability to utilize its tax net operating losses; the ability to
 reinvest excess cash at an acceptable rate of return; weather conditions; the
 availability of transportation; price of alternative fuels; costs of coal
 produced by other countries; demand for electricity; the effect of regulatory
 and legal proceedings, the announced liquidity issues for Washington Group
 International and other factors discussed in Item 1 and Item 7 of the
 Company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2000.  As a result of the
 foregoing and other factors, no assurance can be given as to the future
 results and achievement of the Company.  Neither the Company nor any other
 person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of these
 statements.
 
     For further information please contact Diane Jones of Westmoreland Coal
 Company, 719-442-2600; or Cort Freeman, Media Relations, 406-497-2368, or
 Linda McGillen, Investor Relations, 406-496-5211, both of Montana Power
 Company.
 
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SOURCE Westmoreland Coal Company
    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Westmoreland Coal
 Company (Amex:   WLB) ("Westmoreland Coal") and Montana Power Company
 (NYSE:   MTP) announced today the closing of the purchase of the coal business
 of Montana Power by Westmoreland Coal's wholly owned subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Mining LLC ("Westmoreland Mining") for $138 million in cash, before closing
 adjustments.  The coal operations acquired from Montana Power include Western
 Energy Company, Colstrip, Montana and Northwestern Resources Co., Jewett,
 Texas, which combined, produced approximately 19 million tons of coal in 2000.
 Western Energy and Northwestern Resources supply coal to adjacent, low-cost
 electrical generating units that have the necessary pollution control
 technologies in place to meet today's stringent environmental standards.
     Western Energy owns and operates the Rosebud Mine located in the Northern
 Powder River Basin.  Approximately 90% of Western's current production is sold
 under long-term contracts to the owners of the four-unit, mine-mouth Colstrip
 power plant.  In 2000, the Rosebud Mine produced and sold 10.4 million tons of
 coal.
     Northwestern Resources, which owns and operates the Jewett Mine in Central
 Texas, produced and sold 8.2 million tons of lignite last year.  Production
 from the Jewett Mine is sold under a long-term contract to Reliant Energy, the
 owner of the two-unit Limestone power plant adjacent to the mine.
     "We are delighted to close this transaction, particularly at this time of
 increased attention to the energy needs of our country," said Christopher K.
 Seglem, Westmoreland Coal Company's Chairman, President and CEO.
 "Northwestern and Western Energy are outstanding operations which match
 attractive coal assets with long-term sales contracts that we believe will
 produce sustainable, long-term profits and highly attractive cash flows,
 especially given Westmoreland's ability to apply its NOLs (tax loss
 carryforwards) to the earnings that we expect from Westmoreland Mining.  We
 welcome these employees and look forward to serving the customers of Western
 Energy and Northwestern Resources.  Likewise, we have enormous respect for
 Montana Power Company's decision to focus all its efforts on implementation of
 a forward-looking vision in the telecommunications business.  We wish them
 great success."
     Bob Gannon, Montana Power and TOUCHAMERICA's chairman and chief executive
 said, "We are three-quarters of the way toward transforming Montana Power into
 TOUCHAMERICA, our growing broadband information transport company.  We are
 meeting our goals of receiving good, solid values for our energy businesses,
 and of finalizing transactions with well-respected companies.  We wish
 Westmoreland every success in the future, as well."
     In a separate transaction, Westmoreland Mining is acquiring the coal
 assets of Knife River Corporation which include mining operations in Montana
 and North Dakota.  Westmoreland Coal's wholly owned power development
 subsidiary, Westmoreland Power, Inc., is acquiring certain rights to the
 inactive Gascoyne Mine in North Dakota.  The Knife River Corp. closing is
 expected to be announced shortly.
 
     Westmoreland Coal Company, headquartered in Colorado Springs, is the
 oldest independent coal company in the United States.  Westmoreland has
 produced coal in Montana since 1974 through its subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Resources, Inc., which owns the Absaloka Mine in the Northern Powder River
 Basin.  In addition to its coal operations, the Company has interests in four
 operating independent power projects held by its wholly owned subsidiary,
 Westmoreland Energy, Inc.  The Company also recently announced that it is
 pursuing the development of a new 500MW lignite-fired power project in North
 Dakota.  The Company also holds a 20% interest in Dominion Terminal
 Associates, a coal shipping and terminal facility in Newport News, Virginia.
 Westmoreland is implementing a growth strategy dedicated to meeting America's
 dual goals of low-cost power and a clean environment through the acquisition
 and development of complementary, niche opportunities in coal, power and other
 segments of the energy sector.
     The Montana Power Company is a diversified investor-owned electric and
 natural gas utility that is transforming itself into a national broadband
 information transport company under TOUCHAMERICA, for now its
 telecommunications subsidiary.  TOUCHAMERICA's fiber-optic network, which will
 reach 26,000 route miles this year, employs the most advanced
 telecommunications technology available today.  TOUCHAMERICA and The Montana
 Power Company are based in Butte, Montana.
 
     As to Westmoreland Coal Company:  Certain statements in this press release
 which are not historical facts or information are  "forward-looking
 statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933
 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including, but not
 limited to, the information set forth in Management's Discussion and Analysis
 of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.  Any statements contained
 herein that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be
 forward-looking statements.  For example, words such as "may," "will,"
 "should," "estimates," "predicts," "potential," "continue," "strategy,"
 "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "intends," and similar
 expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.  Such
 forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and
 other factors which may cause the actual results, levels of activity,
 performance or achievements of the Company, or industry results, to be
 materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance
 or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Such
 factors include, among others, the following:  general economic and business
 conditions; the ability of the Company to implement its business strategy; the
 Company's access to financing; the Company's ability to successfully identify
 new business opportunities; the Company's ability to achieve anticipated cost
 savings and profitability targets; changes in the industry; competition; the
 Company's ability to utilize its tax net operating losses; the ability to
 reinvest excess cash at an acceptable rate of return; weather conditions; the
 availability of transportation; price of alternative fuels; costs of coal
 produced by other countries; demand for electricity; the effect of regulatory
 and legal proceedings, the announced liquidity issues for Washington Group
 International and other factors discussed in Item 1 and Item 7 of the
 Company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2000.  As a result of the
 foregoing and other factors, no assurance can be given as to the future
 results and achievement of the Company.  Neither the Company nor any other
 person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of these
 statements.
 
     For further information please contact Diane Jones of Westmoreland Coal
 Company, 719-442-2600; or Cort Freeman, Media Relations, 406-497-2368, or
 Linda McGillen, Investor Relations, 406-496-5211, both of Montana Power
 Company.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X80617188
 
 SOURCE  Westmoreland Coal Company