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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A company created by the Navajo Nation has signed off on the purchase of a coal mine in northwestern New Mexico.

The $85 million deal with Australian-based BHP Billiton is expected to close on Dec. 1.

The Navajo Mine is the sole provider of coal to the nearby Four Corners Power Plant, which provides electricity to about 300,000 households in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The tribe created the Navajo Transitional Energy Co. LLC., earlier this year to look into purchasing the mine that produces up to 8.5 million tons of coal annually. The production level will decrease when three of the units at the power plant shut down, and Arizona Public Service Co. acquires ownership of the other two units.

BHP will manage the mine for three years.

Associated Press,

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