GILLETTE — About 600 locked out coal workers from Blackjewel LLC’s Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines will have to continue to wait for U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval to sell the mines to Contura Energy Inc.

A daylong court hearing to consider the sale of Blackjewel assets Monday adjourned without a decision about allowing Contura to buy the two Wyoming mines and Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia. In fact, the court adjourned while still considering objections to Blackjewel’s agreements to sell off some of its Eastern assets and didn’t consider the bid for Contura.

According to auction results filed with the court Sunday, the competitive bid process ended with Contura Energy agreeing to pay $33.75 million in cash for the three mines, $13.15 million more than Contura had agreed to pay as Blackjewel’s stalking horse bidder for the assets.

Contura has already paid an $8.1 million deposit that Blackjewel has been using to pay the minimal operating costs relating to staff and upkeep at more than 30 coal properties in Wyoming, Virgina, Kentucky and West Virginia. An additional $25.65 million will be paid if the court approves the sale, of which $24 million will go to pay Blackjewel’s main credit holder, Riverstone Credit Partners.

The court did approve some uncontested sales of Blackjewel assets, which included several nonproducing mines and operations. A majority of the company’s operational Eastern assets were won by a pair of companies with bids that haven’t yet been approved or rejected.

Kopper Glo Mining LLC put in the winning bid for the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines in Kentucky, while Rhino Energy LLC won Blackjewel’s Virginia Subdivision Assets.

Judge Frank W. Volk will continue the sale hearing at 7 a.m. MDT on Tuesday. A hearing to finalize any potential sales is scheduled for Wednesday.


By Greg Johnson

Gillette News Record Via Wyoming News Exchange