Navajo coal mine appoints Bisti as mine contractor

NORTH American Coal subsidiary Bisti Fuels has been appointed the new contract mine operator for the Navajo coal mine in New Mexico by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.

Lou Caruana

BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal, the current operator and a subsidiary of BHP Billiton, is scheduled to exit the mine as the contract miner at the end of 2016.

On December 9, NTEC and Bisti Fuels signed a 15-year contract for Bisti Fuels to provide mining services for NTEC and will begin transitioning into their role staring in January 2016.

NTEC CEO Clark Mosley said: “We are proud to bring in an experienced coal mining company to Navajo Mine. Given the unique structure of Navajo Mine, we believe that North American Coal is the best fit to meet our contractual duties with Four Corners Power Plant.

“This ensures the Navajo Nation will continue to receive coal royalties and revenues for the coming years.”

Last year, NTEC provided $37 million in royalty and tax payments to the Navajo Nation. In addition, Navajo Mine employs about 320 people, most of whom are Navajo.

NTEC expects to mine an estimated 6 million tons of coal a year during the length of the contract. The coal is sold to Four Corners Power Plant, NTEC’s sole customer.

NTEC began the process of seeking a new miner earlier this year. In May, companies submitted proposals to NTEC to operate Navajo Mine. By July, the field was narrowed to four companies, and in October, NTEC began formal contract negotiations with North American Coal.

“We did our due diligence. With each proposing company, we weighed our needs at Navajo Mine against the strengths of each company. North American Coal submitted a compelling proposal which illustrated they could clearly meet our needs. We are proud to have them aboard at Navajo Mine,” Moseley said.

For NTEC, the signing of the Contract Mining Agreement is another step in a series of milestones established by the Navajo Nation to become a robust business entity which provides revenues and jobs.

“This is a move that shows self-determination in action. NTEC was created by our Navajo Nation, and now we are making strides that demonstrate both our strength and our resilience as Navajo people,” said NTEC board chairman Steve Gundersen.

NTEC was created by the Navajo Nation in 2013 to purchase Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton. The move secured the future of more than 700 workers at Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant, and secured more than $120 million of annual revenue for the Navajo Nation.