Another large powder basin producer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in an attempt to clear millions of debts it cannot pay.
Blackjewel LLC, which operates Eagle Butte and Belle Ayre mines in Campbell County and 30 other properties around the country, filed Monday in the US District District Bank of West Virginia.
Blackjewel employees in Wyoming were told about the bankruptcy during Monday morning meeting, said an employee who asked not to be identified.
"In the morning we were told that we are going to file Chapter 1
The miner said the employees asked questions about the move, but "we couldn't get many answers."
He said the reorganization was described to them as "it will be a financial restructuring and it will be a good thing for the company."
The message also came after the workers had not been paid as usual Friday and were instead paid with cashier checks Sunday information It was confirmed by other Blackjewel employees.
They have also been told that operations will continue as usual during the bankruptcy process, the employee said. But more workers have also confirmed that many local contractors who owe money have pulled their equipment out of mines.
Employee said it is somewhat troublesome that other local businesses and people will be stuck without being paid.
"It's frustrating, and it's hard," said the worker. "We hardly get rid of what we have (on mine sites). We can't get parts because we owe it to all our suppliers so much money. It's going to be a tough move, I think, and these guys do it Looks like it's all praise.
"This is not true. It's going to screw as many contractors, so many suppliers, and they don't even know it yet. "
Unlike the ongoing bankruptcy process that Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy is in or other bankruptcies for other powder basins, Blackjewel's situation is different because it is not a public company and it does not own Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr
Technically, they are still owned by Contura Energy West, an offshoot of Alpha Natural Resources, which formed during its Chapter 11 process.
Contura still owns the state mining permit because efforts to assign the Blackjewel license were terminated When the Powder Basin Resource Council, a Sheridan-based environmental watchdog group, challenged the transfer and claimed the company and its president and CEO, Jeff Hoops, has a bad track record.
When she learned about Monday's bankruptcy, Shannon Anderson said the resource council was disappointed with the move but not surprised.
"What is the future of these mining activities?" she asked. be the company to take over and responsibly drive, but it is not who this company is. "
She also said that" she cannot imagine having money to pay their debts "and that bankruptcy" can only mean that a lot of people are being shot, including the county. "
What about the tax bill?
Blackjewel's bankruptcy filing came three days after the company had missed a $ 1 million payment to Campbell County under a deal that had to pay millions of dollars in unpaid ad valorem taxes Going back to 2017.
Due to about $ 17 million, the company already paid $ 5 million a week in $ 500,000,000 in May, calling for Blackjewel to pay $ 1 million on Friday, another $ 2 million in The month of July to March 31, 2020, then a balloon payment in April 2020 of about $ 13 million.
The schedule was created to bring the company into its 2017 and 2018 county production taxes.
County Governor Rachael Knust said she had been informed of the bankruptcy application and that the county looked at its legal options.
What about the workers?
Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr Mines, run by Blackjewel, are two of the more active mines in PRB, which produce a combined 35.5 million tons of thermal coal in 2018, according to US Mine Safety and Health Administration. They also employ nearly 600 workers.
The employees are told that the company will function as normal through the bankruptcy process, said the Blackjewel employee.
For now they will continue to remind coal and hope they will continue to get their pay slips.
This is a developmental history and will be updated.