Jul 19, 2019

Coal bankruptcies are piling up

Blackhawk Mining is slated Friday to make a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing that the Kentucky-based coal producer says will cut 60% of its debt and enable $150 million in new financing.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a string of coal company bankruptcies, which began before President Trump's tenure but have picked up lately. They signal the challenge he faces in making good on pledges to revive the sector.

Where it stands: Here's a tally of what the firm S&P Global Market Intelligence calls major U.S. coal company bankruptcies since the start of 2017...

  • Blackjewel, July 1, 2019
  • Cambrian Holding, June 16, 2019
  • Cloud Peak Energy, May 10, 2019
  • Trinity Coal, March 4, 2019
  • Mission Coal, Oct. 14, 2018
  • Westmoreland Coal, Oct. 9, 2018
  • Armstrong Energy, Nov. 1, 2017

But, but, but: While the industry's long-term decline in power markets is well-known, it doesn't explain all the problems in the wider industry that's facing significant debt.

  • For one thing, Blackhawk and some others who filed for bankruptcy produce metallurgical coal used in steelmaking.

What's next: Wood Mackenzie coal analyst Tony Knutson says that "we expect Blackhawk will make it through restructuring without any issues."

  • "The market is better. It's OK domestically and on a little bit of a downswing right now in Europe and globally, but it is definitely a lot stronger than any of the thermal markets," he tells me.

Go deeper, via S&P Global: Met coal producer Blackhawk Mining filing for a bankruptcy court restructuring

Go deeper