arch coal

Stephanie Joyce

The Army Corps of Engineers has released its environmental impact analysis for a port that would ship coal from Wyoming, Montana and Colorado to Asia. 

The Millennium Bulk terminal is the last remaining coal export terminal still proposed for the West Coast. Half a dozen terminals have fallen through in the face of collapsing international coal prices and fierce opposition from tribes and environmentalists in west coast states.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

A federal judge has confirmed Arch Coal’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy.

Arch declared bankruptcy in January, citing a weak market for coal and a high debt load. The company’s bankruptcy attorney, Marshall Huebner, told the court Tuesday that through restructuring, Arch has positioned itself to emerge as a viable company.

“To make it a lean mean fighting machine for the coming era, which will remain challenging and complicated for the U.S. coal industry,” he said. 

Arch shed $4.7 billion in debt through bankruptcy. 

Stephanie Joyce

A federal judge will consider Arch Coal's updated plan to get out of bankruptcy Tuesday. As part of that new plan, the company says it will replace its self-bonds in Wyoming with something more secure.

Arch Coal has more than $400 million in estimated cleanup obligations at its Wyoming coal mines. In the past, Arch was allowed to self-bond those obligations—effectively making a promise to clean up, without putting up cash or collateral to insure those obligations.

Aaron Schrank

Amid a wave of historic coal bankruptcies, states like Texas and Colorado have taken proactive steps to make sure coal companies are on the hook for their future cleanup costs while in Wyoming, over $1 billion of these cleanup costs have gotten tied up in bankruptcy court.

Why are there different outcomes in different energy-rich states?

STEPHANIE JOYCE / WYOMING PUBLIC RADIO

On April 1, 2016, Frank Thompson lost his job as a mechanic at Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle mine. He was one of almost 500 coal miners laid off that day by Peabody and its competitor, Arch Coal. At the time, Thompson, who is a single dad, was most concerned about what being laid off would mean for his son.

"He’s seven years old, so he kind of sees it as some time to hang out," he told Inside Energy's Stephanie Joyce. "But I don’t think he really realizes that this could be us moving away from here."

In a reversal of its previous position, Arch Coal now says it would likely be able to obtain third-party insurance for its clean-up obligations in Wyoming, if necessary. 

Arch is currently allowed to self-bond its more than $400 million in reclamation obligations in the state, meaning it has promised to pay for future clean-up, but has not been asked to guarantee that promise with third-party insurance or cash. 

Arch Coal filed an updated version of its plan to get out of bankruptcy today. This legal wrangling is the company’s latest effort to get everyone to agree on a repayment plan.  

Arch Coal’s new restructuring plan outlines how various creditors would be paid, or not paid, if the plan is approved.

In a statement, Arch Coal wrote that a group of its senior lenders do support the plan. But not all of the company’s creditors are on board. Some have even threatened to sue. 

archcoal.com

Arch Coal has filed its initial plan for how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy, but doesn't contain many details when it comes to reclamation and worker benefits.

Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 in January, in the hopes of shedding some of its $4.5 billion in debt. The company’s restructuring plan outlines how various creditors would be paid—or not paid—if the plan is approved.

Just a few days after hundreds of workers were laid off at two Wyoming coal mines, another company offered buyouts to some of its employees. 

Cloud Peak Energy announced last week that it is offering what's called a voluntary separation benefit. The company wouldn't give details on what's actually in the buyout but it is available to hourly employees who are either 65 years old or 55 and have been with the company for ten years.

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The country's two largest coal mines are each laying off roughly 15 percent of their employees. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal both announced the layoffs Thursday morning. The cuts will affect roughly 235 workers at Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle mine and 230 at Arch's Black Thunder mine.

The layoffs are the first major cuts in Wyoming, which had, until now, avoided the job losses that have affected Appalachia.

Recent court documents show that Arch Coal paid executives more than $8 million in bonuses just days before the company declared bankruptcy. 

Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early January. In the days leading up to that filing, the company gave its CEO John Eaves, a bonus of $2.7 million and made payments to other top executives.

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In financial documents filed this week, one of the largest coal companies in the world warned that it may file for bankruptcy, in part, because the company may not be able to make upcoming debt payments.

Just this week, Peabody Energy missed around $70 million dollars worth of interest payments and instead chose to take advantage of a 30-day grace period. 

Arch Coal will not develop a massive coal mine in southeastern Montana.

The company based Thursday’s decision on a weakened global coal market and an uncertain permitting process.

Coal advocates say the decision will cost Montana thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and wages.

They blame the project’s failure on environmentalists and political heel-dragging on behalf of Governor Steve Bullock’s administration.

In January, the federal government notified the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that bankrupt coal company Arch Coal could be in violation of mining regulations. On Monday, DEQ responded to the notice, writing that it has already dealt with the alleged violation which relates to Arch Coal's reclamation bonding.

Regulators cited an agreement that would require Arch to put aside some funds for future coal mine clean up as one of the steps it has taken to ensure the company's reclamation obligations are covered. 

The federal government notified regulators in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico this week that one of the world's largest coal companies may be out of compliance with coal mining regulations. 

In response to a federal inquiry about potential mining violations by bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources, Wyoming regulators say they are in compliance with the law. But, regulators did note that the challenges created by "the dramatic decline in Alpha's financial condition... highlight certain systemic problems with self-bonding." Self-bonding references a financial tool that gives companies a pass on putting aside funds for clean-up if they can prove financial strength. 

The coal industry's slide continues as one of the nation's largest producers reported a loss of over $2 billion in 2015. 

Peabody Energy has extensive mining operations across the US and Australia. But its stock price plummeted in 2015 and the company’s Wyoming coal production was down around four percent from the year before. During the company's quarterly earnings call, executives broke with tradition and declined to take questions due to quote sensitive timing. Here’s CEO Glenn Kellow.

Wyoming regulators and a bankrupt coal company have reached a resolution on the company's substantial outstanding coal mine cleanup costs. 

Arch Coal declared bankruptcy with nearly half a billion dollars of future clean up costs still on its books. Documents filed with the bankruptcy court earlier this week indicate Wyoming regulators wanted financial assurances that the company would be able to pay those clean up costs.

The federal government has agreed to give state regulators an extension to respond to its inquiry into potential violations of mining regulations.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSMRE, sent two Ten-Day Notices to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on January 21st. The notices asked the state to take a closer look at whether two bankrupt coal companies are out of compliance with federal and state mining regulations.

Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming regulators have asked for more time to respond to the federal government's concerns about potential lapses in state oversight of coal mine reclamation.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement sent two ten-day notices to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on January 21st. The agency believes that two bankrupt coal companies, with hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding clean up costs, could be in violation of federal mining regulations.  

Another coal giant, with operations all over the US, declared bankruptcy today.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal hopes to get rid of $4.5 billion dollars in debt through this Chapter 11 reorganization. The company mines coal in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, and Appalachian states and says it expects operations to continue during bankruptcy proceedings.

As Arch Coal's financial health continues to decline, Western landowner groups are raising concerns about the company's ability to clean up its mines in the future. 

The Western Organization of Resource Councils, including the Powder River Basin Resource Council, filed a formal complaint today with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality over Arch Coal's ongoing mining operations.

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After failing to make an interest payment Tuesday, industry analysts say one of Wyoming’s largest coal companies is one step closer to potentially declaring bankruptcy. Arch Coal invoked the 30-day grace period on its $90 million payment, saying it will use that time to continue "constructive discussions with various creditors."

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

The New York Stock Exchange is threatening to de-list Arch Coal, one of Wyoming's largest coal companies.

Companies listed on the exchange have to meet certain criteria, including maintaining a market value above $50 million. Arch's value has been below that threshold for more than a month. 

The company has 45 days to submit an appeal, in the form of a plan for how it will return to compliance with the exchange's criteria.

archcoal.com

After reporting a $2 billion loss in the third quarter, Arch Coal says it could declare bankruptcy in "the near term."

Department of Energy EIA

 

One of America’s largest coal companies is running out of options after a judge ruled against a move by the company that would have reduced its debt and interest payments. 

Arch Coal had hoped to improve its balance sheet with a debt swap deal. But last week a New York judge denied the company’s request to protect the deal, instead siding with a group of lenders who want to block it.

Stephanie Joyce

The losses are continuing to mount as more coal companies report their second quarter earnings.

Cloud Peak Energy announced a $53 million loss for the quarter Wednesday, while Arch Coal reported a $168 million dollar loss Thursday, following on the heels of Peabody Energy's $1 billion loss on Monday.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says that Arch Coal could have prevented the August 2013 death of a miner at its Black Thunder facility near Wright.

Jacob Dowdy, 24, was crushed by an out-of-control shovel that rolled backwards over his pick-up truck. MSHA coal mine administrator Kevin Stricklin says if Arch had been following its own safety procedures, Dowdy wouldn’t have been behind the shovel.

In the latest sign of a shaky future for the nation’s first coal-to-gas conversion plant, one of the project’s major investors has written it off as a loss. Ben Storrow of the Casper Star-Tribune has been following the development and spoke with Wyoming Public Radio energy reporter Stephanie Joyce about what it means for the future of the project.

 

STEPHANIE JOYCE: So, to start, for any of our listeners who might be at little fuzzy on the details of the DKRW Advanced Fuels project, can you give us the 30-second overview of its history?

Department of Energy EIA

Arch Coal executives expressed frustration with the nation’s two biggest railroads during a conference call with investors Tuesday. Coal shipments out of the Powder River Basin have been delayed in recent months because of congestion on the BNSF and Union Pacific main lines. Arch Coal CEO John Eaves said it’s hurting the company’s earnings.