CHARLESTON, W.V. (WYMT/WJHL) – A bankruptcy judge in Charleston, West Virginia approved Kopper Glo’s bid to purchase the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines in Harlan County.
The sale is not finalized at this time.
Attorneys Ned Pillersdorf and Sam Petsonk said Kopper Glo pledged $450,000 to cover the back wages of all miners regardless of whether those miners come back to work. The company also pledged an additional $550,000 to go to the same fund from anticipated future royalties, the attorneys said.
This amount represents nearly half of what Kentucky Blackjewel miners lost.
“In order to recover the rest of what they are owed, the miners also have a priority lien against the six million dollars that Kopper Glo will pay to the debtor at the closing,” Pillersdorf posted on Facebook. “We will have to compete against other lien holders for the miners’ share of the six million. However, we believe that all or nearly all of the lien holders have separately resolved their liens, and so our primary competitors will be the government.”
Kopper Glo’s attorney told Pillersdorf and Petsonk the company’s intention is to operate the mines and employ as many of the Blackjewel miners as possible.
“It’s a weight off everyone’s shoulders, or mine anyway,” said David Lee Pratt Jr., a Blackjewel miner.
Pillersdorf and Petsonk will be at the Harlan County train tracks, where Blackjewel miners have been protesting for more than a week, Wednesday at 2 p.m. to answer questions.
According to the Associated Press, the judge also approved a bid by Bristol-based Contura Energy to purchase Blackjewel’s Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia. Contura has said it wants to reopen and rehire staffers from Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte but still needs to determine employment decisions at the Pax Surface Mine. The deal will still need to be approved by the federal government before it is finalized.
Tuesday marks day two of the Blackjewel hearings in Charleston. Blackjewel attorneys hope to get approval to sell the rest of the company’s mines as part of its bankruptcy.
Monday’s hearing adjourned after several disagreements.
The biggest disagreement involved Kopper Glo and Caterpillar. Kopper Glo won the bid for the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines after a three-day auction in Cincinnati. But the bid was at risk because Caterpillar asked Kopper Glo to carve out their equipment from the deal, and Kopper Glo did not want to agree to that.
This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.