WINDOW ROCK — Peabody Coal will lay off 265 workers at the Kayenta Coal Mine by the end of this month, according to news reports. Many workers were let go on Monday, August 12.
“The company anticipates that the first layoffs will occur on Aug. 12, 2019 and continue for a 14-day period thereafter,” Peabody said in an official statement required by the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
The closing is a result of the retirement of the Navajo Generating Station. Though the power plant is in Coconino County, the coal mine that serves it is in Navajo County.
KNAU Radio, Flagstaff, said that according to a report by the nonprofit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Peabody is “abruptly laying off 265 workers even though federally required plans are in place for years of environmental reclamation at the mine. According to the group, the employees—nearly all of whom are members of the Navajo Nation—should be kept on to rebuild roads, clean coal pits and revegetate the 36-square-mile site.”
The mine is scheduled to make it’s final shipments to the Navajo Generating Station by the end of the month.
The Navajo Times is reporting that many of the mine’s younger workers have already left to seek work elsewhere, and that the Kayenta School District has seen a sharp drop in enrollment.
“The older people retired and are staying, because they have family here, … But the younger people have children, who represent a lot of jobs in an area where one of the main employers is the school district. Kayenta Unified School District Superintendent Lemual Attson stepped into the job this year to find enrollment for 2019-20 down by nearly 300 students. So far no layoffs are planned,” the Times reports.
“For a long time now, the residents of Navajo County have benefited from the coal industry,” Assistant Navajo County Manager Bryan Layton told the Times. “That’s all about to go away.”