Representatives at BHP, one of the world’s top diversified miners, hailed the development. “BHP is pleased to have worked with the Navajo Nation to secure the mine and the benefits it provides to the Navajo Nation, employees, communities and other stakeholders,” said New Mexico Coal Asset President Pat Risner.

The transaction, according to company officials, will extend the life of the Navajo mine and the plant 15 years to beyond 2015 with direct employment of 800 people, while generating revenue contributing more than 30% of the Navajo Nation’s general fund.

Altogether, according to Arizona State University, the project will yield 2,069 direct and indirect jobs with an economic contribution of $372 million in San Juan County annually between 2016 and 2031; in all, this represents growth of $5.5 billion over 15 years. The Navajo Mine and its approximately 430 employees, 85% of whom are Native American, have supplied fuel to the plant for 50 years.