Navajo Nation Won't Back Bonds For Montana, Wyoming Mines

Nov 13, 2019

Navajo Nation leaders say the Tribe won’t financially back bonds for a subsidiary energy company that recently acquired three mines in Montana and Wyoming. 

In a letter released Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says he wants to protect the tribe's finances as revenues decline from the loss of a coal plant and mine on the reservation.

He wrote the tribe won’t back the bonds Navajo Transitional Energy Company needs for its newly acquired operating permits for the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming and the Spring Creek mine in Montana. NTEC bought the mines from bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy this summer.

The mines, which together employ about 1,200 workers, will continue to operate because Cloud Peak’s reclamation bonds remain in place, according to state officials. Company officials say they’re confident they can secure necessary bonding.

The bonds guarantee NTEC can pay for reclamation efforts and unforeseen circumstances. That acts as an insurance policy, assuring taxpayers in Montana and Wyoming that they wouldn’t have to cover possible cleanup costs. 

Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.