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Home / Business / Two Wyoming coal mines close, send 700 workers home after bankruptcy filing | Energy Journal

Two Wyoming coal mines close, send 700 workers home after bankruptcy filing | Energy Journal



Two coal mines in Wyoming closed and sent 700 workers home Monday afternoon after the owner was granted bankruptcy, the last blow to a region that has been hit by an economic downturn in fossil fuels.

Blackjewel LLC, which runs Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr Mines near Gillette, sent the workers home after a bank denied the company $ 20 million in funding to continue operations under bankruptcy proceedings, said Jeffery Hoop, CEO.

"Actually, what we are worried about is the workers who are affected and similar to what we did in 201

6, we should do everything we can to ensure that they are taken care of, whether it is retraining with college education or workforce services. According to Gillette Geno Palazzari's spokesperson on Monday night,

Blackjewel owes at least $ 500 million in debt, including about $ 6 million to employees, according to court records, and its financial problems, along with much of the coal industry, are coming under increased natural gas competition. and Renewable Energy Sources.

"The ripple effect of this bankruptcy may be felt seriously (by) Wyoming taxpayers and suppliers," said Clark Williams-Derry, Director of Energy Finance at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental tank. "And millions of millions of dollars Campbell (County) are due, they can't get." [19659004] Hoop bought Wyoming coal mines two years ago from Contura Energy. Another of Hoop's companies in the case, Revelation Energy LLC, operates mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

Hoop told the Star Tribune that he learned on a Monday morning court hearing that United Bank of West Virginia denied the company $ 20 million funding attempted to continue mining operations in the meantime.

Workers were sent home from the mines on Monday afternoon by the company.

"We have only advised them that the mines are out of service for further notice we are continuing to attempt to solve the problem," Hoop said.

According to Hoop, workers were paid checkout this week.

"United Bank was very insensitive. They put around 700 people's lives, they really raised their lives, Hoop said.

A United Bank spokesman could not be immediately reached for a comment on Monday night.

Industry in decline

Blackjewel is the fifth coal producer in Wyoming to file bankruptcy in recent years, Bristol, Tennessee-based Alpha Natural Resources filed for bankruptcy in 2015, followed by Peabody Energy and Arch Coal in 2016. Westmoreland Coal, which runs Kemmerer the mine in southwest Wyoming, filed for bankruptcy in October

Even with half of Wyoming's coalland being consolidated and the other half in bankruptcy proceedings, few experts told that once the lucrative powder river basin would undergo such a rapid decline, including Rob Godby, professor and director of the University of Wyoming Center for Energy Economy and Public Policy. [19659004] "Just a few years ago everyone, including me, knew that thermal coal from coal fell, but the powder river basin was the healthiest of coal-producing areas," Godby said. "People in Wyoming took it for granted."

Ten years ago, Campbell County produced over 400 million tons of coal. Last year, production dropped to 283 million, according to the Wyoming Mining Association.

As the price of coal and the demand for the commodities fell, a significant lender for Blackjewel recently withdrew and throws the company's already unclear economic picture into further problems [19659000] Federal Court approves the sale of Kemmerer coal mine "class =" img- responsive lazyload full "width =" 1793 "height =" 1155 "data-sizes =" auto "data-srcset =" https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/trib.com/content/tncms/assets/ v3 / editorial / e / 5a / e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf / 5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg? resize = 200% 2C129 200w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/trib.com/content /tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/5a/e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf/5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg?resize=300%2C193 300w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/ trib.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/5a/e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf/5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg?resize=400%2C258 400w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip .townnews.com / trib.com / content / tncms / assets / v3 / editorial / e / 5a / e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf / 5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg? Resize = 540% 2C348 540w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/trib.com/content/tncms/assets/vrib /editorial/e/5a/e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf/5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg?resize=750%2C483 750w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/trib.com/content/ tncms / assets / v3 / editorial / e / 5a / e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf / 5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg? resize = 1200% 2C773 1200w, https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/trib .com / content / tncms / assets / v3 / editorial / e / 5a / e5a44a80-375f-5af3-9754-89f9f31c8abf / 5cfea317e62c0.image.jpg? resize = 1700% 2C1095 1700w "/>

" We are convinced that the first reaction to the collections, released before the hearing, was still optimistic.

Partly due to the closure mandate and costly recycling, often more expensive than the operation of the coal mine itself.

"(The companies) are between a stone and a difficult place," he added.

But in Campbell County and Blackjewel, about 700 employees in Wyoming are at stake, according to Godby. Several senior secured creditors often have first dibs on returns during the bankruptcy process.

While Blackjewel owns and operates the Campbell County mines, Contura still has my permissions. Due to concerns from the landowners over Blackjewel's lack of assets and its checkered environmental past, the state has not yet completed the transfer. Blackjewel delayed applying for the transfer for months after ownership changed too.

From the beginning of the transfer of ownership, Blackjewel fell behind on its ad valorem tax to the county, raising $ 37 million in tax liability. Last year, the county and the company entered into a new financial agreement. But Monday's announcement casts doubt on the latest reconciling efforts.

The Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowner group in Wyoming, will keep an eye on the company's responsibilities towards the country and its workers.

"We are worried about who will continue the recycling work on both mines, and whether the financial guarantees will cover hundreds of millions of dollars in recycling bonds," said the group's spokeswoman Robin Bagley in a statement. "There will be serious consequences for the state, but more immediately for Campbell County and its inhabitants. "

Gov. Mark Gordon said he was obliged to work with the Labor Force Institute to provide workforce assistance and the Department of Environmental Quality to ensure that proper binding was set.

"This announcement is most difficult on the individuals working at these important mines and their families, and our most immediate concerns were with them," Gordon said in a statement. We are not unprepared for this set of circumstances and are eager to do everything we can for the hard-working employees in diss. e mines. "


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