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Jan 31, 2014 The Associated Press

Storm dumps snow, closes I-25

CHEYENNE -- A snowstorm dumped heavy snow and slickened roads and highways in Wyoming. One major highway was closed Friday morning.

The National Weather Service put parts of southeast Wyoming, including Cheyenne, under a winter storm warning Thursday night. The storm was expected to subside Friday morning.

Initial snowfall estimates released by the Weather Service had near 3 feet of new snow falling in areas of the Sierra Madre Range in Carbon County.

Parts of the Snowy Range in Albany County may have received more than 2 feet.

More than a foot of snow fell in the mountains of northwest Wyoming.

Interstate 25 was closed from Cheyenne to the Colorado line because of winter conditions.

The highway closed at 6 a.m. Friday.

Mead recommends coal research lab

GILLETTE -- Gov. Matt Mead is expressing optimism that the Wyoming Legislature will approve his request to build a $15 million coal research laboratory.

Mead says Campbell County would be a good place to locate a lab to look for innovative uses and emerging technology for coal. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal producer.

Mead noted that people blame the burning of coal for climate change, so it's a goal to make coal more efficient and a better fuel source.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, Mead said he'll try to get other coal-producing states to buy in to the idea.

Wyoming entity finalist for big prize

INDIANAPOLIS -- Champions of birds, primates and sea life are among six finalists for this year's $250,000 Indianapolis prize for animal conservation.

The Indianapolis Zoo announced Thursday the finalists include Conservation International's Russell Mittermeier, who developed one of the first global primate conservation strategies; the Blue Ocean Institute's Carl Safina, a leader in banning high-seas drift nets; and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's Carl Jones, who has saved Mauritius kestrels, echo parakeets and other species.

The others are Stony Brook University's Patricia Wright, who found Madagascar's golden bamboo lemur, once thought to be extinct; the Wildlife Conservation Society's Joel Berger, whose helped create Wyoming's federally protected Path of the Pronghorn; and Gerardo Ceballos, a leader in passing Mexico's Act for Endangered Species.

The winner will be announced in mid-2014.

Peabody posts narrower loss

ST. LOUIS -- Cost cutting at Peabody Energy helped trim its losses by almost 44 percent in the fourth quarter.

The St. Louis company, the world's biggest private-sector coal producer, has extensive holdings in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the richest coal region in the nation.

Peabody reported a loss of $565.7 million Thursday, or $2.12 per share during the October-December period, compared with a loss of $1.01 billion, or $3.78 per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell to $1.7 billion from $2.01 billion, a 14 percent drop-off Peabody at least partly attributed to weaker prices for coal used in steelmaking.

The company said Thursday, however, that it had also realized cost savings of $340 million in 2013.

For all of last year, Peabody posted a net loss of $524.9 million, or $1.97 per share, on revenue of $7.01 billion. That compares with a 2012 loss of $585.7 million, or $2.19 per share.

Peabody said it forecasts adjusted diluted earnings in this year's first three months of a loss of 10 cents to a profit of 14 cents per share, with expectations of better volumes and improving costs in the second half of the year.

Peabody said U.S. coal production fell by 30 million tons last year, dropping the yearlong output below one billion tons for the first time since 1993. The company said production is expected to rise modestly this year.

Shares of Peabody Energy Corp. fell 56 cents, or more than 3 percent, to $16.83 in midday trading. Peabody's earnings are closely watched because the company usually is among the first of the coal sector's big players to report earnings each quarter.

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