Navajo coal company says it has deal to pay back taxes, royalties
The Associated Press
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Navajo Nation company says it has an agreement to pay outstanding taxes and royalties on three large coal mines that it bought last year in Wyoming and Montana.
The Navajo Transitional Energy Company said Tuesday that it made its first payment in December under an installment agreement with the Department of Interior.
As part of its purchase in a Cloud Peak bankruptcy auction last October, the company took on about $93 million in unpaid taxes and royalties from Montana's Spring Creek mine and the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming.
A Jan. 16 claim filed in court by the federal government stated the former owner of the mines owed $10 million in past-due royalties for coal mined at the facilities during September and October , the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The new owner on Tuesday denied previous reports suggesting it was behind on payments, saying the delinquent payments were accumulated by Cloud Peak Energy.
Navajo Transitional Energy Company said it "has binding agreements with (Interior) to pay Cloud Peak's past due fees in installments, the first of which was made, as agreed in December of 2019."
A second installment agreement is in place to address $4 million in reclamation fees, the company said. Separate negotiations with officials over payments owed to several counties and the states of Wyoming and Montana are ongoing.
Coal companies must make production royalty payments to the government for all minerals extracted from public land and payments are due the last day of each month following the month the coal is mined, according to federal law. About half of the royalties goes back to the states where the mines are located.
Separately, the Navajo energy company continues to negotiate with state officials in Montana over the company's legal liabilities for potential environmental violations at the Spring Creek mine.
The two sides on Jan. 7 agreed to a 65-day extension of an interim waiver of liability.