Mining Giant Murray Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

(CN) – Despite receiving a slew of regulatory breaks from the Trump administration, U.S. coal mining giant Murray Energy filed for Chapter 11 protection Tuesday in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Columbus, Ohio. 

Steam pours out of a coal-fired electricity generating plant in Colstrip, Montana. (Photo: David Reese)

Murray Energy holds a debt of $2.7 billion in a world that is becoming increasingly interested in cleaner, more renewable forms of energy. It is the eighth coal company to file for bankruptcy in 2019.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the company was the fourth-largest coal producer in the country in 2018. The Ohio-based company’s former president and CEO Bob Murray is a vocal Trump supporter, who donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Since the filing, Murray resigned those two titles, which are now held by his nephew, Robert Moore. Murray will continue to stay on as a chairman.

Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America said in a press release Tuesday that the filing comes as “no surprise.”

“Coal production in this country continues to decline, due to the glut of natural gas on the market and continued government preference for gas and renewable energy to replace coal-fired power generation. Combined with a recent severe reduction in coal exports, these factors delivered a one-two punch that an over-extended Murray Energy could not withstand,” Roberts said.

“Now comes the part where workers and their families pay the price for corporate decision-making and governmental actions,” he continued, referring to retired miners’ health care and pensions.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that it had entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with the “Ad Hoc Lender Group,” which now holds more than 60% of the approximately $1.7 billion in claims under the company’s Superpriority Credit and Guaranty Agreement.

According to restructuring agreement, which is posted to the company’s website, Murray is estimated to have more than 5,000 employees – with around 2,400 belonging to a union – and faces around $8 billion in liabilities for pensions and benefits plans.

%d bloggers like this: