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Mine Closure

Elizabeth Elliot and her husband Earl stand to the side of during a public meeting on the Blackjewel coal mine closures earlier this month in Gillette. The bankrupt company is still seeking long-term financing to reopen its mines.

A federal bankruptcy judge said last week the court could reconvene as soon as Monday if Blackjewel LLC, the company that sent shock waves across coal company by closing its mines two weeks ago, secured long-term financing over the weekend. That did not happen, according to a Monday status report from the company.

“These efforts are on-going but have not yet produced a final agreement,” attorneys for the company said in the report. “... The Debtors and their advisors will continue to pursue all reasonable alternatives for financing and will continue to keep the Court and interested parties informed.”

But the clock is ticking as hundreds of out-of-work Wyoming employees await a more definitive answer on the future of Blackjewel’s two Cambell County mines, Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr.

Funding to reopen Blackjewel mines 'not there yet'

The bankrupt coal operator has already spent 60 percent of the $5 million in emergency funding approved by a federal judge earlier this month, meant exclusively for “essential” security at the mines, firefighting personnel, professional fees of up to $500,000 and other emergency expenses.

According to court documents, Blackjewel paid attorneys a total of $250,000 on June 28, days before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company is paying attorneys’ rates of $300 to $1,180 per hour.

Terms of that loan also required the resignation of Blackjewel CEO Jeff Hoops and any family members. The funding was a far cry from the original $20 million in emergency funding requested by the company just days after the mines closed.

Cloud Peak hires Blackjewel workers after deadline for bids delayed

Only about 140 employees have been brought back nationwide for minimal maintenance and shipment of coal produced before the closures, a Blackjewel attorney said on Friday. The mines are not producing new coal at this time.

Attorneys for the company plan to submit another report by Wednesday.

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