ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Australian company that owns Navajo Mine said Wednesday it has reached a preliminary agreement to sell the mine to the Navajo Nation, The Daily Times in Farmington reported.
BHP Billiton said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Navajo officials to sell the 33,000-acre coal mine east of Farmington to the tribe, according to The Daily Times.
Officials say the agreement will preserve 800 jobs at the mine and the nearby Four Corners Power Plant, which is the sole user of the mine’s coal, the paper reported.
Under the agreement, BHP Billiton would continue to operate the mine until July 2016, at which point the Navajo Nation would take over the mine with its own company or another company of the tribe’s choosing, The Daily Times said. Mine employees and equipment would remain with the new operator.
Financial terms were not disclosed, and BHP Billiton and the Navajo Nation hope to have a final deal in place by April, according to The Daily Times.
The mine produces about 8 million tons of coal each year.