According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Keith Phillips in Virginia has said he will sign off when the gavel falls on September 9.
The first bidder will be the Virginia Conversation Legacy Fund (VCLF), which announced last month that it planned to acquire assets not already involved in the company’s recent sales agreement with Blackhawk Mining, including the Federal and Corridor G complexes. Also included are mining permits for water quality improvement and land reclamation efforts.
VCLF and affiliate ERP Compliant Fuels are assuming about $400 million in liabilities as well, including workers compensation, environmental ties and black lung obligations.
Bob Bennett, Patriot president and CEO, said in August that he hoped the deal enabled it to move ahead in its bankruptcy process.
“In VCLF, we have found an experienced partner who will responsibly manage our remaining assets consistent with the highest environmental standards, and we believe this proposed transaction is in the best interest of Patriot and its stakeholders,” he said, noting that it expects a majority of Patriot’s workers to be offered work with Blackhawk or VCLF at the sealing of the respective deals.
At an August 18 hearing, VCLF attorney Andrew Troop told the bankruptcy court that it is hoping to use the deal to find a balance between its own mission to reclaim assets while also honoring the coal industry’s history in the area.
“Its desire here is to…reclaim land, operate responsibly, provide some return to creditors who otherwise it looks like would receive nothing or very little in connection with this plan, preserve jobs and enter into a new workable resolution with the United Mine Workers [union],” he said, according to the Journal.
Any competing bids for Patriot’s assets, including the Federal mine, are due Friday. Blackhawk’s bid for most of the mines and assets still stands; it has been the stalking horse bidder with an offer to issue $653.3 million in debt.
Results from the September 9 auction will be subject to bid approvals at a September 16 hearing.