bankruptcy

Rory Wallett stationed in his office since July 1. This is where he's spent most of his time coordinating with workers around the country
Cooper McKim

More than a week has passed since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy and sent home 576 workers. They're still waiting to hear if they're laid off or heading back to work soon. Employees are stuck in limbo, but many are not struggling to keep busy.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

The laid-off employees of bankrupt Blackjewel mining are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Hourly rates for Squire Patton Boggs attorneys, the debtors counsel
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel has yet to publicly announce any plans to reopen the gates at Eagle Butte or Belle Ayr mines this week. That would require a hearing to confirm long-term debtor-in-posession (DIP) financing - an elusive prospect for a company that's struggled to secure much cash in court.

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Prime Clerk

It's been two days since Blackjewel LLC abruptly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and locked the gates at its two Wyoming mines. It turned out the West Virginia private company was in a more financially dire situation than many knew. The early stages did not go as planned, but the presiding judge has approved $5 million in interim funds.

Doc 14-2 Exhibit B - a map of Blackjewel's Wyoming assets
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel LLC, a West Virginia-based coal company, has voluntary filed for relief under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The company operates 32 properties and holds more than 500 mining permits around the country. Blackjewel acquired its two Wyoming assets, the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, in late 2017 through Alpha Natural Resources bankruptcy.

A few of the many letters requesting an equity committee on Cloud Peak's court docket
Prime Clerk

More than 300 individuals who own stock in Cloud Peak Energy are looking for a seat at the table in the coal giant’s bankruptcy. Together, the group owns more than 24 percent of Cloud Peak's stock. The shareholders are asking the court to appoint an equity committee to represent their interests.

S & P Global Market Intelligence

Back in November, Cloud Peak Energy announced it would consider significant changes to its business. At the time, it was weighted down by nearly $400 million in debt and weakening coal sales. The company was open to a buy-out, a sale of one or all of its coal mines, or finding a way to push back its debt. But nothing worked out. So, on May 10, Cloud Peak had no choice but to go bankrupt.

Screenshot from Cloud Peak's bankruptcy docket page
Prime Clerk

COUNTY TAXES
Last Friday, Cloud Peak Energy chose not pay county taxes to Campbell County. It currently owes a lot - about $8 million. The recently bankrupt coal giant also owes Converse County several million in county taxes that contribute to education funds in addition to county services.

Cloud Peak's Gillette-based Cordero Rojo mine.
Cloud Peak Energy

One of the largest domestic coal companies has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cloud Peak Energy warned of its financial problems in November of last year.

Cordero Rojo Mine Reclamation
Wyoming Mining Association

A struggling Powder River Basin coal company has put off two interest payments again. It will be the fourth extension. One is for debt due in 2021 and the other for 2024. Cloud Peak Energy negotiated with debt holders to put off paying until May 10. Past extensions have lasted a month, two weeks and one week.

Cloud Peak's Gillette-based Cordero Rojo mine.
Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy has worked with debt holders to secure its third extension on a $1.8 million interest payment on a debt that's due in 2024. The long-struggling Powder River Basin coal producer extended the termination date of an agreement to pay part of its debt to May 7. A default on the payment would likely trigger a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Nolan Behnke

 

2018 was not a good year for Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal companies that employs 1,300 people with two mines in Wyoming. It sold 15 percent less coal, Asian markets had plummeted for the resource, and the value of its stock fell by half. All that happened by October. That month, executives held a call with stock analysts. In the recording, Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall focused the conversation on weather challenges.

United Mine Workers of America logo
United Mine Workers of America

Retirees of the Kemmerer Coal Mine won't be getting their expected health-care benefits, but the United Mine Workers of America aren't giving up. 

Donlin Recano

Two years ago, Jim Bills retired from the Kemmerer mine in Southwestern Wyoming.

"After spending seven years in the Air Force, I spent 36 years with Westmoreland coal," he said.

Bills worked as a laborer, truck driver, and driller. His son works there now, too. Bills recalls watching retirees taken care of year-after-year. He was excited when his time finally came.

Comparison of benefits treatment in bankruptcies
Peter Morgan / Sierra Club

Filings from Westmoreland show it’s taking a different approach to its financial obligations from other recently bankrupt coal companies. The coal company is seeking to default on nearly $400 million owed in pension funds, black lung claims and retiree healthcare benefits. Three other coal companies, Alpha, Peabody and Arch all passed along those obligations to re-organization debtors with value reduced in some cases.

Gary Kohn, the Chief Financial Officer of Westmoreland Coal Company, has announced his resignation effective January 4 of 2019. In a statement released by the company, he's leaving for personal reasons.

OTCMKTS: WLBAQ

In southwest Wyoming, the Kemmerer coal mine is the largest contributor of tax revenue to Lincoln County and a big employer. It's owned by Westmoreland Coal Company, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's one of the largest and oldest coal producers on the continent and some think it's another sign coal markets are not bouncing back, despite the Trump administration's efforts.

Westmoreland Coal

Westmoreland Coal Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. It operates in five states, including Wyoming, with a large mine near Kemmerer employing around 280 people. The company’s debt has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s lost nearly all of its share price value.

A major U.S. coal producer filed for bankruptcy Tuesday morning.

Westmoreland Coal Company operates five mines in Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico. They employ more than a thousand people.

Delinquent mineral production taxes by county updated in July of this year
Powder River Basin Resource Council

Last Friday, legislators spent three and half hours hearing testimony and discussing improvements to the ad valorem tax system, one-time severance taxes paid to counties to fund local services and the state school system. 

Screenshot, taken from the Campbell County government’s website.


In the second hour of a fluorescent-lit Board of Commissioners meeting in Campbell County, Chairman Mark Christensen introduces "the long-awaited Alpha Natural Resource payment."

Deputy County Attorney Carol Seeger speaking in front of the Campbell County Commissions on the Alpha Bankruptcy
Campbell County

Earlier this month, Campbell County and Alpha Natural Resources have reached a settlement after a lengthy case over unpaid taxes. Alpha is one of the three major coal companies that went bankrupt between 2015 and 2016.

Map of Westmoreland's assets from its 10K filing
Westmoreland Coal Company

The Western Organization of Resource Councils, WORC, believes a coal company that could soon face bankruptcy may not have sufficient funds to pay for mine clean-up costs. A spokeswoman for Westmoreland Coal Company said they are, however, in full compliance with bonding and reclamation regulations.

Kemmerer Mine
Westmorealnd Coal Company

One of the largest producers of coal in the country may soon face Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Westmoreland Coal Company's stock has been in free fall over the last year and several of its primary customers are moving away from coal.

A look at the trajectory of Westmoreland Coal Company's Market Summary
NASDAQ

In the past year, Westmoreland Coal Company’s stock price has dropped 97 percent, and, on Wednesday, April 25th, the company will be removed from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange with shares hovering around 20 cents. But that’s just a symptom of a larger trend for the company. 

Nearly a year after filing, Peabody Coal has emerged from bankruptcy by reducing its debt by$5 billion and by providing third party bonding for mine restoration. That’s according to a company press release this week.

Rob Godby, director at the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, said the key was a reduction in the company's costs in Australia. According to Godby, Peabody sank a lot of debt into expanding its market there, but that was only one reason they went bankrupt.

West Virginia regulators have filed a complaint accusing several top executives of the newly-formed coal mining company Contura of committing fraud.

Contura was created as a new company during Alpha Natural Resources' bankruptcy this year. Contura’s main assets are Alpha’s former mines in Wyoming and its leadership team is composed of former Alpha executives.

Wikipedia

The oil and gas company Battalion Resources filed for bankruptcy on September 8. The filing included three of its subsidiaries, including Storm Cat Energy, which owns hundreds of oil and gas wells in Wyoming. Court documents show the company has $83 million in debt and only brought in $8.4 million in revenue in 2015.

Coal giant Peabody Energy is asking a bankruptcy court to approve up to $11.9 million in bonuses for six top executives.

Peabody Energy / Wikimedia Commons

Peabody Energy has reached a deal with regulators in several states over its outstanding cleanup obligations. 

Peabody declared bankruptcy in April with more than $1 billion in self-bonded reclamation obligations at its mines in Wyoming, Indiana, New Mexico and Illinois. Self-bonding means the company has promised that it will meet its future clean-up obligations, but has not put up any financial guarantees to secure that promise. Peabody has more than $700 million in self-bonded reclamation in Wyoming alone. 

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