Murray Energy emerges from bankruptcy

ST. CLAIRSVILLE ­– Murray Energy Corp. emerged from bankruptcy Wednesday, becoming American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc.

Completion of the court proceedings was announced by the company and by the union representing the company’s miners. United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts confirmed the bankruptcy proceedings concluded with Murray’s assets transitioning to the newly formed company.

All active union employees who worked for Murray will be hired by ACNR as part of terms agreed upon with Murray in May. The union represents about 1,800 workers at what was formerly Murray.

“As spelled out in the agreement, today becomes the effective date of the new collective bargaining agreement between the UMWA, ACNR and its subsidiary companies,” Roberts said Wednesday.

Citing billions in debt and a declining demand for its primary product of steam coal, Murray Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late October after failing to make payments to creditors. The company transitioned into Murray NewCo. while it navigated the bankruptcy process.

The restructuring eliminated more than $8 billion of the St. Clairsville-based company’s debt and legacy liabilities to allow ACNR to access new financing, providing ACNR with enhanced financial flexibility, the company said in a statement. ACNR will continue conducting Murray’s business in the normal course of owning and operating nine mines in six states, the company announced. ACNR will now manage and operate the Foresight Energy mines and the Murray Metallurgical mines through two separate management services agreements.

“Throughout these complex proceedings, we have been challenged with a global pandemic, extremely volatile coal markets, and months of uncertainty,” Robert Moore, president and CEO of the company, said. “Our employees and business partners met these challenges, and, together, moved the company forward to today’s emergence.”

In May, the company sent federal Worker Adjustment Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, letters to 1,522 workers at four Murray Energy locations in Ohio and Marshall counties, notifying them that they would be terminated as of June 17. Two other Murray subsidiaries in Marion County, West Virginia — Harrison County Coal Co. and Marion County Coal Co. — also announced that a combined 931 workers would be laid off. Nearly 350 workers at six locations in Eastern Ohio also received the notices.

UMWA officials said at the time the WARN notices were due to the impending creation of a new company and that the jobs would likely remain once Murray emerged from bankruptcy.

With Wednesday’s announcement, it appears those jobs are now secure, Roberts said.

“I commend the officers and membership of our Local Unions at ACNR operations for their perseverance and patience through this proceeding,” he said. “It has not been an easy time for them, especially during this coronavirus pandemic. There is much to be concerned about for those of us associated with and working in the coal industry during these troubling times, but it is good that this process has finally been completed and our members can put the uncertainty of the bankruptcy behind them.”

Moore, who previously worked at Murray Energy as its executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, agreed and thanked the union for its help during the bankruptcy proceedings. The company employs about 4,000 people.

“Through the efforts and sacrifice of our dedicated employees, the United Mine Workers of America, our secured lenders, and our trade partners and customers, we are a much stronger company today than we were when we sought Chapter 11 protection,” Moore said.


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