Colowyo company changes its name


The company that owns a local coal mine changed its name last week -- but not its operations or its home base.

Kennecott Energy Co., the owner of the Colowyo Mine, announced Tuesday that it changed its corporate name to Rio Tinto Energy America.

The change took effect immediately.

London-based Rio Tinto founded Kennecott in 1993, when it acquired the Spring Creek Mine in Montana and Antelope Mine in Wyoming.

The Kennecott name is more generally recognized with copper production, according to a statement the company released Tuesday.

"This is a natural evolution of our common culture," said Bret Clayton, president and Chief Executive Officer of Rio Tinto.

"The importance of the Rio Tinto name adds a new dimension to our coal companies and locations."

Clayton emphasized that this is a change in name only and is not a re-organization.

"There will be no change in any of our mining operations or staffing," Clayton said. "The only change will show up on signage, work clothing, business cards, advertising, office materials and, eventually, at the top of everyone's paycheck."

"Because of Rio Tinto's solid reputation throughout the world, it has been able to develop resources that others can't," Clayton said.

Rio Tinto specializes in the production of low sulfur, sub-bituminous coal, and operates five coal mines in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.

Becki Dale, a spokeswoman for Rio Tinto, said the company will keep its base of operations in Gillette, Wyo.

Refunds coming

The bright pink envelopes are coming.

Yampa Valley Electric Association announced last week that it will mail about $2.9 million in refunds to their customers.

The not-for-profit electric provider refunds customers every year. The checks come in bright pink envelopes.

The amount of each check depends on how much electricity customers use.

Homeowners typically receive about $40.

The checks will be mailed the first week of June.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

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