Hoeven Secures Approval of BNI Mine Plan, Helping Ensure Continued Access To Affordable Electricity

Senator Advanced Mine Plan with DOI to Support Continued Operations of Center Mine, Minnkota Power in Central North Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that, following his efforts, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has approved a new federal mine plan at the Center Mine. The new plan was needed to allow mining of federal coal under a lease awarded in January 2021 and to provide certainty for BNI Coal and Minnkota Power Cooperative’s continued operations. Without its approval, BNI and Minnkota would have incurred significant costs to make and implement contingency plans to move the drag line and develop other portions of the mine, resulting in higher electricity prices across the region.

Accordingly, Hoeven convened a meeting between Minnkota, BNI and DOI officials in November to make the case for timely approvals of mine plans related to the January 2021 lease, stressing the importance of preventing further energy price increases on American consumers and maintaining the affordability and reliability of the grid. The senator also secured a commitment from DOI Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau to expedite the plan’s review.

“Getting this mine plan approved was critical to the operations of Center Mine and the Milton R. Young Station, both of which play an essential role in this region’s electrical grid,” said Senator Hoeven. “That’s why we worked to move this process forward and ensure DOI signed off on BNI’s mine plan, and we appreciate Deputy Secretary Beaudreau for continuing to working with us on this priority. We need more baseload power, like coal-fired electric, and today’s announcement is a win for the continued affordability and reliability of the grid.”

Center Mine is owned and operated by BNI and supplies coal to the adjacent Milton R. Young Station, a 700-megawatt power plant that provides baseload electricity in North Dakota and Minnesota.

“BNI is grateful to Senator Hoeven for his dedicated leadership and support during this federal mine plan approval process. This approval provides BNI with much needed regulatory certainty which is necessary to fulfill our mission to responsibly mine North Dakota lignite. We will continue to provide the resources needed to produce reliable and affordable electricity vital to our entire region,” said Mike Heger, General Manager, BNI Coal.

“Senator Hoeven’s leadership was critical in the approval of the Center Mine’s new federal mine plan. His hard work and unwavering support helped ensure that Minnkota and BNI can continue safely, efficiently and responsibly using North Dakota’s coal resources to deliver reliable power to the region’s electric grid. On behalf of Minnkota, we thank Senator Hoeven for believing in our mission and being a driving force behind our success,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota Power Cooperative CEO.