Stock Exchange Suspends Trading Of Alpha Shares

Jul 16, 2015

Trucks kick up dust at the Alpha Natural Resources' Eagle Butte mine outside Gillette in this 2014 file photo.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of Alpha Natural Resources Thursday amid concerns about bankruptcy. 

Alpha owns the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming, and is one of the nation’s largest coal producers. The company has struggled in recent years because of low coal prices and considerable debt, and the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that it's in talks about bankruptcy financing.

In a press release, the NYSE said it suspended trading of Alpha today because its stock price was "abnormally low." The exchange also said it’s moving forward with plans to delist the company because it doesn't meet the minimum value criteria.

Alpha is one of several coal companies that made large bets on metallurgic coal when the market was strong in 2011—bets that haven't paid off. 

“There are profitable mines that these companies operate," said University of Wyoming economist Rob Godby. "The problem is they’re holding too much debt, and they can’t service the debt and continue to cover all their costs. Or at least, it’s not clear they can continue to do that.”

Alpha has more than $3 billion dollars in long-term debt. The company employs roughly 600 people in Wyoming.