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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The Navajo Nation is taking steps to become the owner of a coal mine that supplies one of two power plants on the reservation.

The tribe and BHP Billiton announced Wednesday that they've outlined terms that would put the Navajo Mine in the tribe's hands next June. BHP would operate the mine near Farmington, N.M., until 2016.

Arizona Public Service Company runs the Four Corners Power Plant that gets its coal solely from the Navajo Mine. Negotiators had been trying to secure a fuel agreement beyond 2016 when they brought up having the tribe taking over the mine.

Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize said the move prevents a loss in revenue for the tribe and saves jobs held mostly by Navajos.

A BHP spokesman said the sale price hasn't been finalized.

Associated Press,

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