Alpha Natural Resources emerges from Chapter 11 as Contura Energy begins operations

Alpha CEO David Stetson Photo courtesy Alpha Natural  Resources

Alpha CEO David Stetson Photo courtesy Alpha Natural

By Scott Robertson

Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) is back and Contura Energy has arrived. Alpha issued a statement announcing it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 26, the same day Contura announced it had completed the acquisition of what had been Alpha’s key assets.

Formed and majority-owned by a group of Alpha’s former first lien lenders, Contura was created to acquire and operate what had been Alpha’s core operations, allowing Alpha to emerge from Chapter 11 as a smaller, privately held company.

Contura acquired all of Alpha’s operations and reserves in Northern Appalachia (including the Cumberland mine complex) and the Powder River Basin, along with three Central Appalachian mining complexes (the Nicholas mine complex in Nicholas County, West Virginia, and the McClure and Toms Creek mine complexes in Dickenson and Wise counties, Virginia). Contura also purchased Alpha’s interest in the Dominion Terminal Associates coal export terminal in eastern Virginia.

Alpha will now operate 18 mines and eight preparation plants in West Virginia and Kentucky. The company is in the process of vacating its former headquarters in Bristol, Va. It will retain offices in Kingsport, Tenn., and Julian, W. Va.

David Stetson, who was appointed CEO of the reorganized Alpha, previously held leadership positions with Trinity Coal, RAAM Global Energy and JW Resources. “By completing this restructuring, ANR emerges as a company with a solid financial foundation and a strong team to continue to mine and sell coal,” Stetson said. “We are now also better positioned to satisfy ANR’s environmental responsibilities. I am confident ─ even though coal markets continue to be challenged by both competitive and regulatory pressures ─ the company created by our Plan of Reorganization will have the structure, resources, and talent to successfully weather these challenges.”

Stetson added, “ANR could not have successfully completed this process without the loyalty and work of employees across our organization. During the restructuring, we reached important agreements with key stakeholders that will create a more sustainable business model going forward, and we appreciate their support, which ensures our ability to continue serving our customers and playing a positive role in our communities.”

Kevin Crutchfield, Alpha’s former CEO, is now chief executive officer of Contura. That company will begin operations with a workforce of more than 2,200 former Alpha employees. “Today marks the successful culmination of a complex and arduous process, made possible by the tireless work of countless employees, collaboration among a diverse stakeholder group, and the unwavering commitment of Contura’s management team and owners to achieve a positive outcome,” Crutchfield said. “The result is the creation of a strong operational asset base, well positioned to serve unique customer needs in today’s challenged coal market.”

Contura’s initial board of directors includes Crutchfield; Albert E. Ferrara, Jr., retired senior vice president and chief financial officer of AK Steel Corporation; Jonathan Segal, managing director at Highbridge Capital Management, LLC; and Neale Trangucci, principal at NXT Partners, LLC.

Alpha’s new board includes Stetson; John E. Lushefski, former senior vice president and chief financial officer of Patriot Coal Corp.; James Martin, president of Martin Energy, LLC.; Harvey L. Tepner, an independent corporate director; and Stephanie Timmermayer, vice president – Environment Health and Safety for Williams Companies.

The Chapter 11 process involved holders of more than $3.9 billion of debt obligations, various federal and state government entities, surety providers, union employees, pension beneficiaries, trade creditors, and others. It was completed in just under a year.

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