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Separate sale of Wyoming, West Virginia coal mines approved

CASPER, Wyo. — A coal company may sell two large Wyoming mines separately from one in West Virginia, a U.S. bankruptcy court has ruled in a development that added uncertainty to the possibility that the Wyoming mines might reopen soon.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy originally sought to buy all three mines from Milton, West Virginia-based Blackjewel in a deal that has been held up while U.S. officials seek payment of federal royalties. Contura would have paid $9.7 million for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.

The court in West Virginia on Wednesday approved a deal in which Contura would pay $1.1 million to finalize sale of the West Virginia mine, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

Federal records show no production at the West Virginia mine since 2006. The huge Wyoming open-pit mines ranked among the top six in the U.S. for production before Blackjewel declared bankruptcy and shut them down July 1.

The sale changes add uncertainty for the many of the 600 or so Wyoming workers furloughed since the bankruptcy announcement. Contura, which previously owned the Wyoming mines and still holds their state mining permits, planned to reopen them once the original purchase deal went through.

Court documents submitted Tuesday by senior creditor Riverstone Credit Partners alleged that Blackjewel considered the potential sale of the Wyoming mines dead. Blackjewel owes Riverstone $41 million and would likely get most of that money back if the sale went through.

Blackjewel pushed back on that characterization Wednesday.

“Blackjewel continues to work toward a viable transaction with respect to its Western operations, including with Contura,” David Beckman, acting chief restructuring officer for Blackjewel, said in a statement. “Several alternatives are under active consideration.”

Funerals for Saturday, September 21, 2019

Abodeely, Malakee - 11 a.m., St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Charleston. 

Ayers, Helen - 11 a.m., Belcher Family Cemetery, Pinch Ridge.

Backus, Ernest - 2 p.m., First Baptist Church of Rainelle.

Bailey, Jerry - 5 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Carney Jr., Chester - 2 p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Carter, Blanche - 11 a.m., Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, North Elkview.

Copen, Louise - Noon, McRoss Baptist Church, McRoss.

Fizer, Donna - 3 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Fowler, Jeannette - 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Goard II, Mitchell - 5 p.m., Central Community Tabernacle, Charleston.

Hammack, Barbara - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Kessinger, Wilma - 4 p.m., Canaan Baptist Church, Charleston.

Knight II, James - 6 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Lymon, Daniel - 1 p.m., Grace Bible Church, Charleston.

McKown, Travis - Noon, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Wallback.

Miller, Alexander - 4 p.m., Roane County High School, Spencer.

Mitchell, Emma - 2 p.m., Calvary Baptist Church, Hurricane.

Montgomery, Betty - 11 a.m., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Charleston.

Pfeil, Ruth - 2 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

Roush III, George - 12:30 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Samuels, Hazel - 1:30 p.m., Dunbar Kingdom Hall, Dunbar.

Slonaker II, Harvey - Noon, Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Starks, Henry - 11 a.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Buckeye.

Stooke, David - Noon, Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Huntington.

Thompson, Thomas - 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mount Hope.

White, Duane - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

White, James - 1 p.m., Cedar Grove Middle School, Cedar Grove.

Woodson Jr., Lewis - 1 p.m., Abundant Life Ministries, Charleston.