Farmington, NM September 29th, 2020—Today, the US Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) recognized Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) for their exemplary mining and reclamation work at the Navajo Mine. OSMRE awarded NTEC the agency’s highest honor for activities that went above and beyond reclamation requirements to achieve superior results.
NTEC is the steward of the nearly 33,000 acre Navajo Coal Mine on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Traditional piecemeal reclamation began at the mine in 1970. When NTEC, a Navajo-owned company, purchased the mine in 2013 they inherited failing reclamation and unstable landforms, much of which had already been relinquished from jurisdictional oversight. The company immediately saw an opportunity to go above and beyond to correct the situation and do more than required to create a stable, sustainable landscape that mimics the natural erosion and deposition process of the Southwest.
Specifically, one site had been reclaimed to the previous applicable standard and was unnaturally eroding, while another site was lacking soil to shape and fill the area. However, the existing site configuration didn’t allow equipment the access necessary to perform reclamation work. NTEC and Bisti Fuels (NTEC’s contract miner) applied a creative solution to remedy both situations and allow for a watershed reclamation method.
The limiting infrastructure included electric rail structures (necessary to move coal from the pit to the power plant) and a local access road. The Company removed electric rail overhead lines and purchased diesel locomotives, as well as relocating a portion of the road. The new road location served the dual purpose of providing locals safe passage during the weather events.
The new configuration allowed NTEC to correct the erosion problems with one pit, minimize impacts to the previous reclamation, and move soils for future reclamation. Combined, these extraordinary efforts allowed for a large-scale effort that mimics a natural watershed and creates a sustainable restoration landscape.
This effort and approach are above and beyond what is required. “We took a site that has already been released from jurisdiction by the agency, and put it back in, because we knew we could do it better—we wanted to leave things better than we found them,” said Clark Moseley, CEO. “Doing the right thing is one of NTEC’s core behaviors. We have an obligation to our shareholders, the Navajo People. Our reclamation efforts present an opportunity to step up, do the right thing, at the right time, and create a better landform than what is required.”
OSMRE Principal Deputy Director Lanny E. Erdos, along with NTEC and Navajo Nation leadership toured the reclamation site this morning. The tour was followed be an award ceremony. “It is with great pleasure that I am here today to present the Navajo Transitional Energy Company with the 2020 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Award,” said OSM Principal Deputy Director Lanny E. Erdos. “NTEC, North American Coal, and Bisti Fuels are truly deserving of this National Award. As good stewards of the land, they utilized a unique and effective geomorphic approach to reclamation which restored key waterways and returned the lands to productive use.”
Since 1986, OSMRE has awarded the Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation to coal mining companies that achieve the most exemplary coal mine reclamation in the nation. Winners demonstrate a commitment to sound mining practices and effective reclamation plans that enhanced beneficial post-mining use of the land.