Contura Sells Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr Mines

Contura Energy sold its Powder River Basin mines to Blackjewel LLC, a private company based in the Kentucky Appalachians.

Contura statements on the sale did not provide any information on what, if any, personnel changes would occur at the mines. Along with the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines, Contura sold the related coal reserves, equipment, infrastructure, and other real properties.

Combined, the two mines shipped 24.5 million tons through the first three quarters of 2017, and Contura subsidiaries controlled approximately 600 million tons of proven and probable reserves in the PRB.

Contura was born out of Alpha Natural Resource’s 2015 bankruptcy. Alpha’s senior investors formed Contura to take the lucrative Wyoming mines off Alpha’s books, while Alpha continued operating mines out east.

The eastern mines produce more metallurgical coal used on production of steel, and less of the thermal coal from the Powder River Basin, which is used primarily for electrical generation.

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Kevin Crutchfield, Contura’s CEO, said the sale to Blackjewel would allow Contura to focus on “the company’s well-positioned eastern assets and a growing met sales portfolio.”

“While these PRB thermal assets will not be part of our company’s operational strategy moving forward, the purchaser is acquiring two solid mines with decades of minable reserves, a top-notch professional workforce, and a great operating track record,” Crutchfield stated in a press release on the transaction.

Under the terms of the transaction, Contura will receive deferred consideration of up to $50 million through various royalty payments. Blackjewel will assume all permits and reclamation obligations associated with the assets acquired.

Calls to Contura’s media contacts were not returned as of press time.

Originally from New Mexico, Killough began his career writing freelance for a weekly magazine in Albuquerque while completing his undergraduate degree. In addition to reporting on uranium mining in western New Mexico, he spent three years reporting in western North Dakota during the height of the oil boom. He can be reached at or 701-641-6603.