The Navajo Nation has put the final touches on its purchase of the Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton Limited and is now the official owner, the tribe announced on December 31.
The sale followed more than a year of negotiations, public input and protest. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company LLC (NTEC) completed the purchase on December 30 and has agreed to supply coal to the Four Corners Power Plant through 2013, the Nation said.
“The acquisition of the Navajo Mine was an extremely complex undertaking,” said Steve Gundersen, Chairman of NTEC’s Management Committee, in a statement after the agreements were executed. “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, in line with “the Nation’s vision to become part of the solution to create a cleaner more sustainable world.”
NTEC will help the Navajo Nation move to cleaner coal technologies and renewable energy, he added. Those are some of the issues that had caused the grassroots environmental group Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, or Diné CARE, which blasted the purchase idea earlier in the month.
Diné CARE’s fear is that the ongoing environmental reviews could reveal problems that the Navajo Nation is not in a position to take on, but will be stuck with once the sale is final.
“BHP is trying to dump this coal mine on the Navajo Nation,” said Diné CARE board member Lori Goodman just before Christmas. “It’s a bad business decision. And this could bankrupt the Navajo Nation.”