Coal company that owns Central Texas mine files for bankruptcy

The company closed its mine in Jewett in early 2017. (Westmoreland Coal. Co. photo)
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(KWTX) Englewood, Colo.-based Westmoreland Coal Co., whose properties include a 35,000-acre surface mine complex on FM 39 South in Jewett, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in Houston as the demand for coal declines worldwide.

Court filings show the company has $770 million in assets and $1.4 billion in debt.

“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 Michael Hutchinson, Westmoreland’s interim CEO.

“Our goal is to emerge as a stronger Westmoreland, better positioned to grow and thrive,” he said.

Westmoreland announced in September 2016 that it was closing down the Jewett mine in early 2017 after NRG Energy, the mine’s sole customer, switched to cleaner-burning coal from Wyoming for the adjacent two-unit Limestone Electric Generating Station.

About 250 employees lost their jobs.

At its peak, the 30-year-old strip mine employed 350.

The bankruptcy filing is part of a restructuring agreement with a group of unnamed lenders.

The company, which was founded in 1854 in Pennsylvania, also has mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Ohio, and North Dakota and a coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.