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Blackjewel Sells Wyoming Mines, Clearing Way for Worker Payment

Jeremy Hill

(Bloomberg) -- Bankrupt Blackjewel LLC has closed the sale of its Wyoming operations, clearing the way for workers to receive millions in back pay.

Blackjewel on Friday closed the sale of the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming to Eagle Specialty Materials LLC, the company said in an e-mailed statement. The sale will put many former Blackjewel employees in Wyoming back to work, according to the statement.

Referring to an “arduous sale process,” Interim Chief Executive Officer David Beckman said in the statement that “virtually all” of Blackjewel’s working mines will reopen under new ownership.

Judge Frank W. Volk -- who is overseeing the bankruptcy -- earlier this month approved the sales. Blackjewel had seen a prior deal for the mines fall through.

In connection with the sale to Eagle Specialty Materials, Blackjewel previously cut a deal with the U.S. Department of Labor that calls for payments of $3.4 million for unpaid work done in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia and about $800,000 to workers in Wyoming.

Hundreds of Blackjewel workers across the country were out of work after the company filed for bankruptcy on July 1, and many saw their final paychecks bounce. In response, miners and their families in Kentucky blocked railroad tracks leading from a mine. The labor department sided with miners, calling the coal “hot goods” and saying it couldn’t be transported or transferred in interstate commerce until the workers were paid.

The case is Blackjewel LLC, 3:19-bk-30289, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hill in New York at jhill273@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Green at rgreen18@bloomberg.net, Nicole Bullock, Dawn McCarty

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