Contura Energy

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.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Contura Energy has entered into an agreement with an Alabama coal company to take over the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines in the Powder River Basin. The deal is dependent on Contura reaching a resolution with the federal government and other entities in court to become the owner of both mines.

Inspection Log From DEQ
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality says Contura Energy does not have to revise its permit to mine or for reclamation plans right now.

It comes in response to an August 28 complaint from the Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC), a landowners' group, arguing the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines have been inactive for enough time without seeing updated relevant plans that Contura is in violation of state and federal rules.

Letter sent to Blackjewel employees September 9
Blackjewel LLC

After weeks of little information from a West Virginia court, Blackjewel could soon be welcoming back its western employees. Workers received a letter with the company's letterhead yesterday, September 9, with the subject, "Possible Recall of Furloughed Blackjewel Workers of Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte Facilities."

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Judge Frank Volk has approved Contura Energy as the stalking horse bidder of Blackjewel's Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, along with a mining complex in West Virginia. The company will put down a deposit of $8.1 million to fund the sale process and pay another $12.5 assuming no party outbids them. Contura's offer is now set as the low bar, or stalking horse, bid.

Two of Wyoming’s coal mines are changing ownership. Contura Energy has sold Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines to a private company called Blackjewel LLC.

Madelyn Beck

When Alpha Natural Resources went into bankruptcy in 2015, it formed a new company called Contura Energy with some of Alpha’s best coal assets - mines in Wyoming and Appalachia.

Earlier this summer, Contura announced it was going to go public, hoping to expand in the U.S. and beyond. Usually, companies go public and sell shares to raise money and grow their business.  

Now, Contura is backing out of that plan.

The company said it’s because of "capital market conditions."

Stephanie Joyce

West Virginia has settled a suit with Alpha Natural Resources over inaccurate revenue projections included in the coal company’s bankruptcy plan. In early November the state accused Alpha’s former top executives of fraud after it came to light that the company had $100 million dollars in undisclosed liabilities on its balance sheet. Those executives now work for Contura, which owns Alpha’s former mines in Wyoming.

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.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

Alpha Natural Resources emerged from bankruptcy Tuesday as a much smaller company. 

As part of the bankruptcy deal, Alpha sold its core assets, including its mines in Wyoming, to a new company, Contura. Alpha will continue to operate a handful of mines in Appalachia, while Contura will take over the company's more lucrative mining operations in the Powder River Basin and elsewhere.

Contura is majority-owned by a group of Alpha’s former senior lenders. Employees of Alpha in Wyoming are now employed by Contura, which is being headed up by Alpha’s former CEO.