local

San Juan Mine's owner files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Coal pours from a conveyor belt in a file photo from January 2016 at the San Juan Mine in Waterflow.
Coal pours from a conveyor belt in a file photo from January 2016 at the San Juan Mine in Waterflow.
Daily Times file photo

Story highlights

  • Westmoreland says it does not anticipate any staff reductions at this time.
  • The Sierra Club released a statement saying the bankruptcy is a sign coal is no longer profitable.
  • Westmoreland owns the San Juan Mine, which provides coal to the San Juan Generating Station.
Aa

Company says mine will continue operating

FARMINGTON — The Westmoreland Coal Company, which owns the San Juan Mine, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning, according to a press release from the company.

The company said the mine will continue operating while the bankruptcy process continues.

As of June 30, 2018, the company had a total of $1.1 billion of outstanding debt, according to Westmoreland’s frequently asked questions list posted online. The company states that it expects to restructure the vast majority of its debt.

Part of the restructuring could include selling assets, but those assets that could be sold have not yet been determined or made public.

A bankruptcy hearing was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Texas in Houston, Texas.

Information about the proceedings is available online at donlinrecano.com/Westmoreland or by calling Westmoreland’s restructuring hotline at 800-499-8519.

Westmoreland: No staff reductions anticipated

Westmoreland states that there will not be any staff reductions as a result of today’s filing, and operations will continue as normal. It will continue providing coal from the San Juan Mine to the San Juan Generating Station, which is the mine’s sole customer. The San Juan Mine employs approximately 360 people.

According to the frequently asked questions list, Westmoreland plans to move through the bankruptcy process quickly and emerge from it in 2019.

“After months of thoughtful and productive conversations with our creditors, we have developed a plan that allows Westmoreland to operate as usual while positioning Westmoreland for long-term success,” Westmoreland’s interim Chief Executive Officer Michael Hutchinson said in a press release.

Hutchinson said the goal is “to emerge as a stronger Westmoreland, better positioned to grow and thrive.”

Environmental groups say bankruptcy signals coal is no longer profitable

The news was heralded by environmental groups like the Sierra Club as another sign that coal is no longer profitable.

“Westmoreland’s declaration of bankruptcy is the latest clear signal that the coal industry is in an irreversible decline,” said Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, in a statement released today. “With numerous coal companies facing bankruptcy in recent years, it is clear that further investments in coal are a mistake. The best course for Westmoreland Coal Company moving forward must be to ensure that there are adequate funds to clean up its mines and to treat its workers with the respect they deserve, including assisting them as they transition to new economic opportunities in thriving industries like clean energy. Nothing can stop America’s shift away from coal and toward clean energy, but the transition should be managed to ensure workers are treated with respect and that vital environmental obligations are honored.”

MORE: How San Juan Generating Station went from powerhouse to possible closure

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

 

Share This Story