Done deal: Tribe officially owns a coal mine

By Alastair Lee Bitsóí
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Jan. 2, 2014

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If any disputes arise, state courts will be the primary arena between the newly formed Navajo Transitional Energy Company and the insurers – Zurich American Insurance Co. and Arch Insurance Co. – of $500 million in bonds.

That decision by the Navajo Nation Council was the last hurdle in the tribe's $85 million purchase of Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton.

On Monday, according to a Dec. 30 BHP Billiton press release, the sale was finalized.

Pat Risner, president of BHP's New Mexico Coal Asset division, said BHP Billiton is pleased with the transaction being completed.

"This is a great news for the employees, communities, and all stakeholders that derive benefits from Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant," Risner said.

He added that the transaction represents an important economic development opportunity for the Navajo Nation and preserves critical jobs and revenue for the region until at least 2031.

This news comes after the Navajo Nation Council voted 17 in favor and five opposed during a Dec. 27 special session on a bill that waives its sovereign immunity on behalf of NTEC. Zurich and Arch required the tribe to waive its sovereignty, including settling any arbitration in New Mexico and Arizona courts, before they issued $500 million in bonds and insurances for reclamation and performance to NTEC, effective Dec. 30.

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