With 19 mines in the US and in Canada, Westmoreland Coal Co. is the 6th largest coal company in America, but it recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Denver Post recently reported the company had $1.4 billion in debt. Westmoreland is based in Colorado, but has no mines there. North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Montana are some of the states where it has mines.
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“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,” said Westmoreland’s interim CEO, Michael Hutchinson.
The point of the chapter 11 bankruptcy is to restructure the debt with lenders to allow the company to continue operations. The company has almost 3,000 employees and reportedly does not expect to lay off any of them.
The Sierra Club released a statement about the filing, “Westmoreland’s declaration of bankruptcy is the latest clear signal that the coal industry is in an irreversible decline. With numerous coal companies facing bankruptcy in recent years, it is clear that further investments in coal are a mistake.”
The Kemmerer Gazette, a Wyoming newspaper, published an article about the possibility that retired workers from the company might have their pensions and healthcare coverage cut. “Because of their bankruptcy, Westmoreland now wants to throw out the contracts we’ve negotiated,” said Mike Dalpiaz, District 22 Vice President of the United Mine Workers of America.
Utility Dive reported that Westmoreland’s bankruptcy filing marks the 4th major US coal company to do so in the last several years.
One contributing factor to the bankruptcy was that several of the company’s key customers are not going to continue using coal, reported Wyoming Public Media.
Westmoreland was founded in 1854.