On March 21, Madigan issued the letter to Peabody Energy as well as Peabody Investments Corp. asking it to address plans it has committed to regarding the cleanup of several active and inactive operations in the southern region of the state; in it, she noted that she has “significant concerns” about its ability to fulfill its self-bonding.
The mines included in its commitment are the active Cottage Grove mine; the active Wildcat Hills mine; the inactive Big Ridge mine; the inactive Eagle Valley mine; and the inactive Willow Lake mine in Equality, Saline County. Also tied into the agreement is the active Gateway mine in Coulterville, Randolph County, and the Riola/Vermilion Grove mines, inactive operations in Georgetown, Vermilion County.
Madigan stressed that reclamation at those sites is necessary to protect the public water supply into the future.
“Because Peabody’s $92 million in mine reclamation commitments are critical to the state and many communities in Illinois, I am requesting that Peabody publicly disclose financial information to allow legislators, local officials, and residents in potentially impacted communities to assess whether Peabody can fulfill those financial responsibilities,” she said.
Company officials have not commented on the specifics of Madigan’s letter, but in a statement said, “We see our land restoration as an essential part of the mining process, and take great pride in the work that we do. We have been routinely recognized for these programs. Each year, we restore thousands of acres into hardy and productive rangeland, wildlife habitat, hardwood forests and wetlands.”
Peabody warned earlier this month that it may seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but so far has not done so. Should that plan go forward, a judge will be tasked with prioritizing liabilities, including those costs, as they are not guaranteed by any securities.