contura

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) will soon become the operator of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines. The affiliate of FM coal will receive $81.3 million from Contura Coal West in order to take over all reclamation liabilities and operator-ship.

View of the southeastern part of the Black Thunder ranch - land considered in the appraisal document
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The First Judicial District Court in Wyoming ruled in favor of a landowners group in a case considering the release of previously confidential reclamation documents to the public. It helps shed light on how Contura Coal West, LLC (Contura) is backing 20 percent of its reclamation obligations for the Belle Ayr mine in the Powder River Basin.

In 2017, Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) accepted the real property collateral bond. A certified appraiser showed that nearly 50,000 acres of property were collectively worth $26.7 million. It was appraised twice, and then reviewed by another appraiser, according to the DEQ.

Contura Energy logo
Contura Energy

Contura Energy is not yet the owner of Blackjewel's two Wyoming mines. But, in an earnings call, the company did give insight into their expectations for the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines.

Blackjewel LLC Operations
Prime Clerk

On August 6, West Virginia Judge Frank Volk approved the motion for Contura Energy to purchase Blackjewel's assets in Wyoming pending resolution of tax conflicts with the federal government. In a Blackjewel filing, it wrote a sale to Contura would keep both Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines open "for an estimated minimum of six to twelve years."

Screenshot from Interior's Response to a Contura Sale
Prime Clerk

U.S. District Judge in West Virginia Frank Volk has approved the motion for Contura Energy to purchase Blackjewel LLC's two Wyoming mines: Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. Though, there are still hoops to jump through. The court will need to settle a lasting issue with the federal government along with remaining challenges with title and lease transfers.