Murray Energy Corp. to acquire Kentucky coal mines

WHEELING — Murray Energy Corp. plans to acquire a 51-percent stake in five mines in Kentucky, despite forecasts from the International Energy Agency that coal is in for a “decade of stagnation.”

The five western Kentucky mines have been owned by Armstrong Energy Inc., which filed for bankruptcy last year. Plans call for the secured noteholders of Armstrong Energy to hold 49 percent of the interest in the new company that will manage them, with Murray holding the 51-percent portion.

“After this transaction is completed, Murray Kentucky and the lenders of Armstrong Energy will jointly own five mines that are strategically important in the Illinois Basin. These operations will complement our existing mines in the Illinois Basin,” said Robert E. Murray, who is chairman, president and CEO of the company.

Murray operates several coal mines throughout the U.S., including the Century Mine near Beallsville, Ohio, the Ohio County Mine near Benwood, W.Va., the Marshall County Mine near Cameron, W.Va., the Monongalia County Mine near Blacksville, W.Va., the Harrison County Mine near Clarksburg, W.Va., and the Marion County Mine near Mannington, W.Va.

Murray also owns mines in Illinois, Kentucky and Utah in the U.S. and in Columbia.

As of June 30, Armstrong Energy controlled more than 445 million tons of proven and probable coal reserves in western Kentucky. The transaction includes five mines and three preparation plants, along with river dock coal handling and rail loadout facilities.

The deal is subject to approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which is administering the Chapter 11 case Armstrong filed Nov. 1.

“This transaction will provide needed stability to the coal industry in western Kentucky,” Murray said. “This is a very important transaction for our employees, the employees of Armstrong who will join us, and our lenders and customers.”