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Montana accepts NTEC’s limited sovereign immunity waiver

WINDOW ROCK

Navajo Transitional Energy Company’s durable limited waiver of sovereign immunity has been accepted by the state of Montana.

This comes two months after NTEC received a 65-day extension limited waiver of its sovereign immunity from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

On Oct. 25 the two entities signed a 75-day limited waiver of sovereign immunity in order to reopen the Spring Creek Mine after having to shut it down briefly because it wouldn’t be able to operate without the waiver.

The Spring Creek Mine in Big Horn County, Montana, is one of three mines that NTEC had acquired when it purchased Cloud Peak Energy Inc. last year. The other two mines — Antelope and Cordero Rojo — are located in Wyoming, which has less stringent mining regulations.

“They are operating as planned,” said NTEC CEO Clark Moseley, to the Times in a previous interview, on how Cloud Peak Energy Inc. was doing. “Costs are what we expected. We’ve had additional success in acquiring more customers in the last four months.”

Last month, it was reported that NTEC and Wyoming had come to an agreement to a limited waiver of sovereign immunity to ensure the state’s ability to regulate NTEC’s mining operations.

“We formed our second quarter international sales,” said Moseley. “We are starting to ship to a long-term contract that we have in Japan.”

This does not change NTEC’s status as a contract operator under the existing operating permit, held by Spring Creek Coal. Before the permit can be transferred to NTEC, the company will have to transfer state and federal mineral leases and acquire bonds sufficient to cover the cost of reclamation at the mine, currently calculated to be around $110 million, according to Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

“We are working now to replace the Cloud Peak reclamation bonds and once we do that permits will go through the permit transfer process,” said Moseley last month.

But the limited waiver accepted today expands NTEC’s waiver of sovereign immunity to include all of NTEC’s duties and obligations under all laws administered by any state of Montana agency. The waiver also includes additional, insurance-backed protections for any injuries to third parties or their priority resulting from NTEC’s operation of the mine.

About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.

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