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Status Quo for Western Assets, Closing at Least Three Weeks Out

Photo courtesy of Taylor Helton

The sale of Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines continues to inch forward toward completion, but, not at the accelerated pace preferred by the debtors.

The latest sticking point in negotiations, 137 permits, has pushed the proposed closing date closer to the end of the month.

Regulatory officials in Kentucky are currently working on the permits in question to properly transfer the bonding as well as the permits to FM Coal’s subsidiary Eagle Special Materials (ESM).

In a hearing this morning, a representative for the Commonwealth of Kentucky told Judge Frank W. Volk that getting the substitute bonds in place would take at least three weeks, and the transfer of the actual permits would take considerably longer, possibly up to 90 days.

The two mining operations will continue to operate with only a small skeleton crew until the transaction closes.

There was no ruling from Judge Volk today. Instead, he heard discussion from all parties and tasked attorney for the debtor Travis McRoberts to draft a proposed order outlining the most recent changes in the agreement.

A previous draft stated that ESM plans to operate under the existing mine plan, which goes out at least 10 years. The completed sale will also open up employment opportunities for up to 500 workers.

It’s still unclear just how many of the Blackjewel employees shut out in July plan to return to their former positions.