NENAHNEZAD — Despite a nationwide slowdown in coal production and increased competition from inexpensive natural gas, the owners and the operators of Navajo Mine say they expect to continue doing business as usual.
Bisti Fuels Co., a subsidiary of the North American Coal Corp., has been operating the open-pit mine since Jan. 1, when it completed the transition in management from previous owners and operators, BHP Billiton.
The Navajo Transitional Energy Co., an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, purchased the mine and its equipment from BHP Billiton in 2013 and picked Bisti Fuels to run it. Among the plans to sustain coal mining operations, NTEC and Bisti Fuels are investing in new equipment and upgrading hardware.
The $10 million endeavor includes purchasing two diesel locomotives, a dragline bucket, a coal hauling truck, a dozer, a surface miner and 25 other new vehicles. Bisti Fuels Business Manager Andy Hawkins said the locomotives will replace the current engines that operate by an overhead wire system, called a catenary system, this summer.
The locomotives are used to deliver coal from the mine’s stockpile to the Four Corners Power Plant, the mine’s sole customer. “We have invested very heavily already in the first four months in capital and we plan to continue that for the rest of the year,” Hawkins said.
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