Being the owners of a coal mine, is something Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly thinks would be not only beneficial but a good move for the tribe.
Shelly who met with Pat Risner, president of BHP-Billiton New Mexico Coal, on January 30 feels the Nation should do its due diligence in exploring the acquisition of the Navajo Mine according to a Navajo Nation press release.
“I think this could be a good acquisition for the Navajo Nation. But as president of the Navajo Nation, I must be sure that this is a good investment. After being informed of the process to now, I am comfortable with the progress our negotiations team has made. Lets continue to explore this proposal more and make sure this is good for the Navajo people,” Shelly said during the hour-long meeting.
Both parties were in favor of continuing the investigation and interested in a possible deal that could sell the Navajo Mine to the Navajo Nation.
“We have to protect the jobs at the mine,” Shelly said. The mine employs more than 400 people.
The potential acquisition started last October when BHP-Billiton and Arizona Public Service, owners of Four Corners Power Plant, presented a buying proposal to the Nation. In December Shelly signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enter negotiations.
One of Shelly’s main concerns has been focused on the long-term investment of the mine and how eventual repairs to the equipment, buildings, railroads and other infrastructure, would be paid.
“Acquiring a coal mine is a giant step for the Navajo Nation. However, we must become more certain as to the benefits the Navajo Nation will receive. There are many issues to consider, but right now, we agreed to continue the due diligence investigation,” Shelly said.