Navajo Nation awarded $25K grant to provide training for mine workers

The Navajo Mine on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Photo from SERC / Carleton College

The Navajo Nation received a $25,000 grant from the Department of Labor to provide health and safety training for mine workers.

The tribe's Division of Natural Resources will use the funds to reduce mining accidents, injuries and illnesses, the department said.

“This funding will enable educational, governmental and industry organizations across the country to develop training resources and train miners in an effort to ensure they return home – safe and healthy – after every shift,” Joseph A. Main, the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a press release.

The Navajo Nation was the only Indian Country recipient of the funds -- a total of $8.4 million was awarded to state agencies and state entities. The tribe has received grants in the past, including $25,055 in 2015 and $26,839 in 2014.

"We provide Annual Refresher, New Miner and Hazard training," the Navajo Minerals Department website reads. "The law mandates 8 hours of Annual Refresher Training and 24 hours of New Miner Training for surface coal mine workers. No person is allowed to work without receiving the training."

According to the website, the tribe started receiving grants for mine safety and training in 1985, with each award averaging about $25,000. Sequestration of the federal budget drastically reduced the amount to $9,510 for fiscal year 2013.

The federal grant essentially funds one staffer for the Mine Safety Program, according to the website.

Besides the Navajo Nation, only a handful of tribes are engaged in coal mining.

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