While the St. Louis-based company is currently in discussions with creditors to restructure its balance sheets, a Reuters report November 9 said an out-of-court restructure is unlikely and that Chapter 11 could be in its future even if a deal is struck.

“If an agreement [with creditors] is reached and we pursue a restructuring, it may be necessary for us to file a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code,” Arch officials said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, adding that it may have issues servicing its current $5.1 billion in debt considering the current economic environment.

Unnamed sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters that Arch could seek out Chapter 11 protection as early as December. The possible move has been an expected one for at least one in the analyst community.

Given how hard it has been to negotiate any deal, especially with senior lenders who seem to want control of the company, it is not surprising that Arch will have to file for Chapter 11 soon,” Morningstar analyst Kristoffer Inton told Reuters November 9.

For now, the key date is December 15, when Arch — which acquired International Coal Group in 2011 — has $90 million in coupons due. Another $14 million are due on January 15.

If Arch Coal does not file for Chapter 11 protection by the former of the two dates, the Reuters report said, it can choose to miss its next bond payment. That will then spur a 30-day grace period.

Arch canceled its third-quarter earnings conference call this week, saying only that the difficult market would continue through next year.