Coal Bankruptcy

Bob Murray speaking at an event in October 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

Coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. has emerged from bankruptcy with a new name and a commitment to rehire all of its former union employees, according to a news release from the United Mine Workers of America. 

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky-based coal company Rhino Resource Partners LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, joining a growing list of Ohio Valley coal producers seeking financial restructuring as the U.S. coal industry continues to struggle. 

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

Executives with Indiana-based coal company American Resources Corporation will face daily fines of $2,500 if they continue to flout court orders, according to filings in the bankruptcy case of Cambrian Coal. 

coal truck
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broacasting

Coal company American Resources Corporation, which owns mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, is facing sanctions after failing to comply with a bankruptcy court’s orders, even after the company received $2.7 million in government aid meant for companies harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

 


Bob Murray
Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

Last fall, Murray Energy — the largest privately-owned coal company in America with a large presence in the Ohio Valley — joined many of its peers in declaring bankruptcy. Murray faced mounting debt and a struggling coal market. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, tanking the global economy including energy markets. 

S&P Global Market Intelligence senior reporter Taylor Kuykendall has been following the bankruptcy case closely. Late last week, he spoke with energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson about the latest updates in the case.


Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

A West Virginia-based coal plant operator has announced that it’s filing for bankruptcy due to weak demand for electricity. Longview Power LLC, which operates one of the newest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the U.S. hailed by the Trump administration as a model for coal’s future, announced in a Tuesday press release that it would seek to restructure its debts and ownership structure under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. 

 

Bob Murray speaking at an event in October 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

 

This story was updated on Oct. 29 to include additional information and reaction.

Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in America with a substantial footprint across the Ohio Valley, has filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Miners assemble on railroad tracks to block a shipment of coal from a Blackjewel mine.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Virginia employees of coal operator Blackjewel LLC have received their final paychecks more than two months after the company declared bankruptcy on July 1. 

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

The federal judge presiding over coal operator Blackjewel LLC’s bankruptcy has set a timeline in the “hot goods” dispute over millions of dollars worth of coal sitting in railcars in Kentucky and Virginia.


Led by production from its Powder River Basin, Wyoming produces 40 percent of U.S. coal.
U.S. Geological Survey

A U.S. bankruptcy court has ruled that a coal company may sell two large Wyoming mines separately from one in West Virginia.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy originally sought to buy all three mines from Milton, West Virginia-based Blackjewel in a deal held up while U.S. officials seek payment of federal royalties.
Contura would have paid $9.7 million for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.

Curren Sheldon

Curtis Cress sat in the gravel beside a railroad track in Harlan County, Kentucky. Tall and thin with a long, black beard, Cress is every bit a coal miner, or, he was until a month ago.

“It’s part of my heritage, you know? My dad and papaws had always done it,” he said. “And I’m proud of that heritage.”

Blackjewel miners and supporters enter the federal courthouse in Charleston, W.Va.
Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than a thousand coal miners left unpaid by the abrupt bankruptcy of Blackjewel mining could soon be getting some – but not all – of the money they are owed. 

Dozens of miners have staged a week-long protest on railroad tracks in Kentucky’s Harlan County, blocking delivery of a load of coal from a Blackjewel mine and demanding their pay.  

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Blackjewel coal miners will have to wait at least another day to learn if the sale of the bankrupt coal company’s mines and equipment will deliver their overdue paychecks.

Blackjewel coal mine
Mead Gruver / AP Photo

 

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a plan by West Virginia-based Blackjewel LLC to begin the sale of its coal mines and other assets. 

At the heart of the proposal, Tennessee-based Contura Energy Inc. will be the “Stalking Horse Purchaser,” or initial bidder, for three of Blackjewel’s surface mines. 

Led by production from its Powder River Basin, Wyoming produces 40 percent of U.S. coal.
U.S. Geological Survey

A buyer for some of bankrupt coal company Blackjewel’s mines has emerged. 

In a court filing Thursday, July 25, the West Virginia-based company said Contura Energy Inc., which operates both surface and underground coal mines across Appalachia, had agreed to be a “Stalking Horse Purchaser” or initial bidder for three of the company’s surface mines. 

Laid-Off Employees Of Bankrupt Blackjewel Mining Seek Pay, Answers

Jul 10, 2019

 

Patrick Fitchpatrick has worked at Blackjewel’s D-11 coal mine in Cumberland, Kentucky, for a year and a half. He says he enjoyed the work right up until he was told not to come in last Monday. 

“Everything was fine,” he said. “Everything was smooth sailing and then one day it just all goes to hell.”

The country’s sixth-largest coal company filed bankruptcy last week, and many of Blackjewel’s 1,700 workers in Wyoming and across Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia were suddenly out of work.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

This story was updated on 7/5/2019 at 11:15 a.m.

A federal bankruptcy court in West Virginia has granted a request by West-Virginia based coal company Blackjewel LLC to borrow $5 million to stay afloat, on the condition the company’s president and CEO, Jeff Hoops, resigns.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

In what is the latest sign of problems for the U.S. coal industry, one of the country’s largest coal producers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

West Virginia-based Revelation Energy LLC and its recently-formed affiliate, Blackjewel LLC, began the bankruptcy reorganization process in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Monday. 

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcast

Lawmakers from coal-mining states are pushing to extend health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire at the end of April. Last December, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and other coal-state Democrats won a four-month extension that preserves benefits through April 30. With lawmakers returning to the Capitol following a two-week recess, Manchin says the time for extensions is over and that more than a partial fix is needed.

Can Donald Trump Save Miners' Health Benefits?

Nov 29, 2016
Steve Helber / AP Photo

Would you go into a dangerous profession if you were assured that you and your dependents would have healthcare and pension for life? For thousands of West Virginia coal miners, the answer to that question was yes.

“When we all started in the mines, we were promised healthcare for life – cradle to grave,” said Roger Merriman. He’s referring to a deal struck between the United Mine Workers of America and the federal government in 1946. Union miners who put in 20 or more years were promised lifelong health benefits.

Miners Rally to Save Health Benefits and Pensions

Jun 14, 2016
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jennings Harrison worked in a coal mine for 36 years, over which time he accumulated back problems, neck problems, carpal tunnel in his wrist and precancerous nodules on his lungs.