The Navajo Transitional Energy Co. (NTEC) was awarded the 2023 New Mexico EMNRD Excellence in Reclamation award for its work at the Yazzie Wildlife Bluff at Navajo mine. The award was presented at the New Mexico Mining Association’s 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show on Thursday, August 24, 2023. Reclamation efforts in Yazzie Pit began in 2018 and concluded in 2022. In that time, 22.5 million cubic yards of material were moved safely. The project was completed with the assistance of the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation (OSM), the Navajo Nation Minerals Department, and the Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife Services Department, representing an extraordinary collaboration between governing agencies and Navajo mine.

During reclamation efforts, golden eagles had been observed around the Yazzie highwall. Revered in the U.S. and by Indigenous populations, the golden eagle became the focus of the crew at Navajo mine and a symbol of renewal. “We really enjoyed the reclamation effort at Yazzie Pit. It was phenomenal to see the land transformed and the golden eagle settling into the environment. As soon as we spotted the eagle, we were dedicated to ensuring its health and safety in its new habitat,” recalled Dacia Jaques, reclamation engineer at NTEC. In addition, the eagle’s reemergence enabled the opportunity to explore stable highwall options for the purpose of preserving future wildlife habitats.

“We take great pride in our reclamation efforts at Yazzie Wildlife Bluff and at all NTEC locations. We believe in doing the right thing and going the extra mile to protect the land, the water, the air, and living things,” said Shawn Smith, engineering manager for NTEC. “This project exemplifies that commitment in partnership and effect. We are thankful for the collaboration of all the agencies involved and are thrilled with the return of the sacred golden eagle.”

The Yazzie Wildlife Bluff project represents the ability to effectively preserve the habitat of a wild species while achieving reclamation that exceeds pre-mining conditions. NTEC continues to work with OSM, honoring its commitment to stewardship of the natural resources under its care. To date, NTEC has reclaimed more than 24,000 acres and won numerous awards for excellence in reclamation, including the National 2022 OSM Excellence in Reclamation Award for Large Surface Mining.