Westmoreland's Kemmerer Mine pictured Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 in Lincoln County. Coal has been mined in the area since the 1800s. The current open-pit mine opened in 1950.

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Last week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $57.26 Brent (ICE) 67.12

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.68, Wyoming Pool $7.38, Opal $7.40

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,047, Wyoming 37 

Quote of the Week

“I guarantee you that there is no one at that mine that has a goddamn thing to do with this bankruptcy."

Kim McKee, a retiree of the Kemmerer coal mine who spent 41 years in the mines near town.

Kemmerer coal 

Last week was filled with coal news at the Star-Tribune, particularly from southwest Wyoming where the Kemmerer mine is going through an upheaval. 

The 4 million ton per year mine is poised to pass to new ownership as the Westmoreland Coal Company bankruptcy limps ahead. A newcomer to Wyoming coal, Virginia businessman Tom Clarke put in the sole bid for the mine, killing a scheduled auction

Pending conditions in a purchase agreement, Clarke will take over Kemmerer for $7.5 million in cash at closing, a $112.5 million senior secured promissory note and a $95 million junior secured promissory note.

In 2011, the mine was sold to Westmoreland by Chevron Mining Inc for $74 million in cash and $118 in liabilities.  

The Westmoreland bankruptcy has shaken the mining community in western Wyoming. The mine and the power plant it feeds face uncertainty that could significantly impact the towns of Kemmerer and Diamondville. 

The bankruptcy has also dealt a blow to miners. A recent decision by a bankruptcy judge will cut retirees benefits and eliminate the union's contract. 

For a compilation of the most pertinent recent Star-Tribune stories about the Westmoreland bankruptcy, see here. 

Cloud peak cuts jobs

The cuts included most of the government affairs staff and the budget for that department. Public relations for Cloud Peak will be scaled down to local production and operations information, the company told the Star-Tribune. 

Cloud Peak is currently under financial pressure and has hired outside consultants to advise the firm on a path forward, including contemplation of a sale. 

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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