The story of America’s largest Native American-owned coal producer.
Navajo Mine – Coal Lease Granted
Navajo Mine Begins Operations
Navajo Mine begins large-scale mining operations in 1963 by its original operator, Utah International in areas south of Fruitland, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation. Over the years, it has become one of the largest surface mining operations in the United States. The Navajo Mine is the sole supplier of coal to the adjacent Four Corners Power Plant (FCPP). The electricity generated from the Navajo Mine coal plays a significant role in meeting the energy needs of the rapidly growing Southwest.
Navajo Mine New Buyer Search
BHP Billiton and the owners of the FCPP are unable to reach agreement on the renewal of the coal supply agreement. BHP Billiton decides to divest its interest in the Navajo Mine and begins to search for a suitable buyer.
Navajo Nation Energy Policy
The Navajo Nation conducts an extensive survey and tribal member comment exercise that results in the issuance of the Navajo Nation’s 2013 Energy Policy. The Navajo Nation re-affirms its inherent sovereign rights to develop its natural resources to promote the economic development of the Nation.
The Navajo Nation creates NTEC under Navajo law as an autonomous commercial entity to “promote the development of the Navajo Nation’s resources and new sources of energy, power, transmission and attendant resources to develop the economic, financial, social and cultural well-being of the Navajo People and the Navajo Nation.” NTEC is formed as an LLC with the Navajo Nation as its sole shareholder.
On December 30, 2013, NTEC purchases the Navajo Mine Coal Company LLC.
Four Corners Settlement
NTEC settles contractual dispute with Four Corners Power Plant owners. NTEC received $55 million in the settlement. NTEC used the settlement to pay off the term loan that was used to buy out BHP Billiton’s original loan to purchase Navajo Mine.
Rare Earth Investment
NTEC acquires interest in Texas Minerals Corp. to invest in rare earth minerals project near El Paso, Texas. Rare earth minerals are needed to build solar panels, wind turbines and for modern electronics.
New Mine Assets
In October 2019, NTEC acquired the assets of Cloud Peak Energy through a bankruptcy auction process. These include three coal mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana (Antelope, Cordero Rojo, and Spring Creek). NTEC becomes the third-largest producer of coal in the United States.
Revenue Benefits to the Navajo Nation
Annual taxes and royalties paid by NTEC to the Navajo Nation from the operation of the Navajo Mine now exceed $40M and account for almost a third of Navajo Nations General Fund Revenue.
Additional Economic Benefits from the Navajo Mine
The Navajo Mine is spending approximately $4 million each year with qualified Navajo vendors and businesses.