Black Mesa mine in northern Arizona is likely to close as a result of the Dec. 31 closure of Southern California Edison’s Mohave Generating Station.
Peabody’s Western Coal Co. informed more than 120 employees at Black Mesa in
October that they would be laid off Dec. 16, according to a report in the
Arizona Journal. Most of the affected employees are members of the Navajo or
Hopi nations and had higher salaries than the per capita income for the Navajo
According to Peabody’s Web site, the company’s Black Mesa and Kayenta mines
employ a total of 650 in the area of northeast Arizona near the Four Corners
According to an article in the Navajo Times, tribal officials expect a loss
of $5 million in taxes annually, plus royalties, which make up the biggest
portion of Peabody’s annual payments to the tribe.
The Navajo nation does not receive taxes from Peabody’s Kayenta mine,
because it is on Hopi land. The Hopi nation’s budget also will take a hit from the
Black Mesa closure, because the tribe gets about $3 million to $6 million
annually from the mine, according to the Times.
The Mohave station, about 100 miles south of Las Vegas, is the only customer
of Peabody’s Black Mesa mine. Peabody mines the low-sulfur coal, crushes it
and mixes it with water to make a slurry, then sends it to the Mohave plant
via a 273-mile pipeline.
Southern California Edison agreed to close the Mohave plant by Dec. 31 if it
could not implement millions of dollars in pollution controls. The plant has
been called one of the “dirtiest” in the country. Southern California Edison
said in reports it aims to reopen the plant in 2010, which could also result
in Peabody reopening the Black Mesa Mine.
Several Peabody spokespersons were not immediately available Friday morning.