BILLINGS, MONT.: Federal officials have accepted a $10.6 million bid for 35.5 million tons of publicly owned coal near Roundup, Mont.

The Bureau of Land Management accepted the bid Tuesday from Signal Peak Energy, the same company whose previous $5.3 million offer was rejected as insufficient.

Signal Peak was the sole bidder in the November lease sale. After that rejection, the company asked the bureau to hold another sale.

The bureau said that this time, the $10.6 million bid “met or exceeded” the fair market value.

The coal tracts are in the path of Signal Peak’s 300-?employee Bull Mountain mine and a key component of its mining plan.

Signal Peak is jointly owned by two Ohio companies, Boich Co. and FirstEnergy, and the Gunvor Group of Europe.

Last October, the Gunvor Group became a one-third owner with an investment of $400 million. Gunvor is one of the world’s largest commodity traders. FirstEnergy was to receive about $260 million as its share of selling to Gunvor.

Boich is a privately held Columbus-based coal company.

In 2008, FirstEnergy and Boich acquired the Montana mine, which produces 9 million tons a year, as a joint venture.