Tribal Coal Miners Face Layoffs in Navajo Generating Station Closure

Mar 29, 2017

The planned closure of the Navajo Generating Station near Page could result in the loss of nearly 800 jobs. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Navajo Nation officials recently met with coal miners who face layoffs if a deal isn’t reached to keep it open. 

The Kayenta Mine, located on the Navajo Nation, supplies coal to the Navajo Generating Station. NGS is slated to close in 2019, which would also likely mean the closure of the mine.
Credit John Burcham/The New York Times

Navajo Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates told employees of the Kayenta Mine that tribal leaders are working on a plan with federal officials and NGS owners. The speaker’s office didn’t provide specifics, but tribal officials want to keep the plant open until 2030.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page
Credit The Arizona Republic

The mine is the sole supplier of coal to NGS, and would likely close if the plant stops operating. NGS was recently slated to shut down in 2019 because cheaper power generated by natural gas is widely available. If a plan isn’t finalized by July, owners will begin a two-year process to decommission it.

NGS and the Kayenta Mine employ Navajo and Hopi tribal members in an area with nearly 50 percent unemployment. Royalties from the plant represent large percentages of annual Navajo and Hopi revenue.