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FARMINGTON — Mine owner Navajo Transitional Energy Co. and mine operator BHP Billiton Mine Management Co. will receive top honors later this month for the coal companies' reclamation project at the Navajo Mine in Fruitland.

NTEC and BHP have been selected to receive this year's Western Regional Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation award from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The two companies will be given the annual regional award on Sept. 28 at MINExpo, a mining conference, in Las Vegas, Nev.

The federal bureau gives the award to coal mining "operators who ensure their on-the-ground performance not only conforms with the (company's) mining permit, but is exemplary within that state or geographic area," according to an Aug. 22 OSMRE press release.

Winners also must ensure that "other mining activities at the site do not detract from the award-winning activity" and the mining companies "have no outstanding violations or past record of not abating violations," according to the release.

Cynthia Johnson, an OSMRE spokeswoman, said BHP nominated its own project for the award. A panel of five OSMRE judges, including reclamation specialists and geologists, made the selection, Johnson said.

The Chinde project area, now a wetlands, and home to birds and other wildlife located in the northern half of the Navajo Mine's lease lands, is actually a redesign and repair job on a 1970s-era land-restoration project.

Called "fluvial geomorphic reclamation," the latter project took design cues from the natural landscape, BHP officials told the Daily Times in May.

“We are very excited and pleased to be recognized for the work that our mining contractor has performed these (past) years. Congratulations to the team members who worked tirelessly to ensure Navajo land is reclaimed not only according to the standards set by OSRME, but ensuring that future generations of Navajo people can enjoy the land much like their ancestors have,” NTEC CEO Clark Moseley said in a press release.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

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