BNI History

BNI Coal Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of ALLETE(NYSE-ALE), owns and operates the Center Mine near Center, North Dakota. BNI Coal's surface mine supplies lignite coal to fuel the nearby Milton R. Young steam electric Generating Station, Units I and II. 

In 1930, Harris M. Baukol, his brothers and L.L. Monson formed Baukol-Noonan Lignite, Inc. and Noonan Holding Company. The companies began mining near Noonan, North Dakota. In 1949, the businesses were assumed by a successor company, Baukol-Noonan, Inc. Operations at the Center mine began in 1970.

In 1988, Baukol-Noonan was purchased by Minnesota Power Company currently known as (ALLETE). Baukol-Noonan changed its name to BNI Coal Ltd. and relocated its headquarters to Bismarck, North Dakota. 

Today, BNI mines about 4.5 million tons of lignite coal annually, supplying both units of the Young Station. The mining process disturbs and reclaims approximately 210  acres per year. And with reserves of 600 million tons, BNI has ample capacity to expand production.

Learn more about our 80 year history.

  •  

    The Beginning

    Harris M. Baukol, his brothers and L.L. Monson form Baukol-Noonan Lignite, Inc. and Noonan Holding Company.

  •  

    Incorporation

    Baukol-Noonan, Inc. is incorporated, selling all its capital stock to North Dakotans.

  •  

    Noonan, ND

    Operating as Baukol-Noonan, Inc., the company begins mining near Noonan, N.D.

  •  

    Leases Acquired

    Baukol-Noonan acquires coal leases covering 15,000 acres near Center, N.D., from Minnkota Power Cooperative, a Grand Forks supplier of electricity to 13 rural electric cooperatives in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

  •  

    Supplying Young Station

    Mining begins at the Center mine, supplying about 1.5 million tons of lignite a year to Minnkota Power's Milton R. Young Station.

  •  

    Production Doubles

    The Center mine production increases more than twofold to fuel a second generating unit at the Young Station, the Square Butte unit, which supplies electricity to Minnkota Power and Minnesota Power Company, a northern Minnesota electric utility with headquarters in Duluth.

  •  

    3.4 Million Tons

    The Center mine delivers 3.4 million tons of lignite to the Young Station. Mining ceases at the Noonan mine.

  •  

    Purchased and Renamed

    Baukol-Noonan purchased by Minnesota Power continues as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Duluth based firm, changing its name to BNI Coal, Ltd. and relocating its headquarters to Bismarck, N.D.

  • Record Year

    BNI Coal produces a record 4.3 million tons of lignite for the Young Station whose two generating units are commended for having the second lowest production cost of 798 coal, nuclear, oil or gas fueled U.S. power plants.

  •  

    Another Record Year

    BNI sets another production record of 4.528 million tons of lignite coal.

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    And Yet Again

    As a final accomplishment of the twentieth century, BNI breaks it's 1996 production record.

  •  

    100 Million Tons

    BNI sells 100 millionth ton from Center Mine in October.

  •  

    Record Production

    BNI sets yet another production record of 4.599 million tons of lignite coal.

  •  

    New Dragline

    BNI commissions a new Bucyrus 8200 dragline.

  •  

    Conservation Achievement Award

    BNI was given the ND Soil Conservation Achievement Award for Oliver County.

  •  

    Distinguished Service Award

    BNI employees receive Distinguished Service Award for their North Dakota Hospitality, Cooperation and Commitment to Excellence in growing ALLETE’s Renewable Energy Strategy. BNI’s parent company launches Bison Wind Farm near New Salem, ND.

  •  

    Patriotic Employer

    BNI recognized as a Patriotic Employer by the national committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and for supporting employee participation in the National Guard and Army Reserve Force.

  •  

    Growing

    BNI hires 30 new employees in one year.

  •  

    New Construction

    Construction of a new shop and wash bay were completed at the Center Mine.

  •  

    New Fleet

    BNI establishes a truck/shovel fleet operation.

  •  

    First Electronic Permit

    BNI submits it’s first electronic format permit to the public service commission for the addition of the new mining AREA C.

  •  

    Public Service Commission Award

    BNI Receives ND Public Service Commission award for going beyond regulations in the reclamation process.

  •  

    Safety Award

    BNI receives Safety Award for achieving lower than industry’s average accident rate.

  •  

    CSA Extension

    The Coal Supply Agreement with Minnkota Power Cooperative and Square Butte Electric Cooperative was extended through 2037.

  •  

    New Mining Area

    New mining Area C (an additional 8,500 acres) was approved by the Public Service Commission and work began to prepare area for active mining.

  •  

    Community Service

    BNI Coal receives award for employee participation in community service involvement with Sporting Chance.

  •  

    Remodel Complete

    Inventory Warehouse at the Center Mine completes remodel.

  •  

    Corporate Giving

    BNI Coal employees receive recognition from Missouri Slope Areawide United Way for donations putting them in the top 20 corporate givers for the second consecutive year.

  •  

    On The Move

    BNI moves two draglines (using Mammoet Company) to Area C and mining begins.