A Navajo mining company has been given 65 more days to acquire bonding for Spring Creek Mine, Montana's largest coal producer.
The Navajo Transitional Energy Company has been granted an extension by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The mine was one day from shutdown had the extension not been granted. It has been operating under temporary conditions since a brief October shutdown.
Spring Creek mine is Montana’s largest coal mine, employing 300 people. In late October, the mine briefly shut down over concerns that Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality would not be able to hold accountable a company that has tribal sovereignty rights. NTEC has been asked to waive its tribal sovereignty before receiving an operating permit. The mine continues to run under the permit and bond of Cloud Peak Energy.
Since October, the Navajo Nation has chosen not to financially back the bonds for NTEC coal mines in Arizona, Montana and Wyoming, saying the coal investments were too risky.
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NTEC needs $400 million in reclamation bonds to assure cleanup of Spring Creek Mine in Montana and Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming. The company has said it is confident it can get the money without the support of the Navajo Nation.
Montana officials said in a press release that NTEC must provide $108 million to cover reclamation bonds and mineral lease transfers for Spring Creek.
NTEC bought the mines from Cloud Peak Energy, through bankruptcy auction.