Deal for Wyoming mines called best-case for idled miners

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Two of the biggest U.S. coal mines have been sold, raising the possibility that miners in Wyoming could return to work.

Tennessee-based Contura Energy announced Monday that Blackjewel closed Friday on the sale of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines to a subsidiary of Alabama-based FM Coal.

Contura participated in the deal as the mines’ permit holder. Its CEO David Stetson called the deal a best-case scenario for getting miners back to work.

Under the sale, which would require federal approval, Contura would pay $90 million to the subsidiary that would assume about $238 million in reclamation liabilities and certain Blackjewel debts.

West Virginia-based Blackjewel furloughed over 500 Wyoming employees at the two mines when it filed for bankruptcy July 1.

Several other coal firms have gone bankrupt amid competition from natural gas and renewable energy sources and declining demand for coal to fuel power plants.