Reports: Navajo Nation completes coal mine buy from BHP

The Navajo Nation has reportedly finished its long-planned buy of the Navajo coal strip mine from BHP Billiton.

The mine is the sole coal supplier to the nearby Four Corners power plant. On Dec. 30, plant co-owner Arizona Public Service shut Units 1-3 at the plant for clean-air reasons, leaving the larger Units 4-5 at the plant in operation for the long term. Those shutdowns reduced the plant’s capacity from about 2,100 MW to 1,540 MW.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Co. LLC (NTEC) reportedly completed the mine purchase on Dec. 30 and has agreed to supply coal to the Four Corners plant through 2013.

“The acquisition of the Navajo Mine was an extremely complex undertaking,” said Steve Gundersen, Chairman of NTEC’s Management Committee, in a statement. “Throughout the process, which lasted over a year, NTEC, the Navajo Nation, BHP Billiton and the Four Corners Power Plant overcame many challenges to bring this project to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those who assisted us in this endeavor, especially the leadership of the Nation who embarked on this visionary and historic project.”

The acquisition allows the Navajo Nation to better control its own natural resources, Gundersen said. NTEC will help the Navajo Nation move to cleaner coal technologies and renewable energy, he added.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that the Navajo mine produced 5.4 million tons in the first nine months of 2013, 7.6 million tons in all of 2012 and 7.9 million tons in all of 2011.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.