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FLAGSTAFF – The federal agency that regulates surface mining could decide as early as next week whether to merge two northern Arizona coal mines under one permit, a move that could allow one to resume operations despite concerns about its water use.
The life of mine permit would cover Peabody Energy’s Kayenta and the now-closed Black Mesa mines. The mines operate under leases and surface rights of way easements granted from the Navajo and Hopi tribes.
Environmentalists expect the federal Office of Surface Mining to approve the proposal. Peabody has said it has no immediate plans to reopen Black Mesa, but the company is leaving its options open. The mine’s sole customer was a power plant on the Colorado River in Nevada that closed more than two years ago.