Top US coal company might declare bankruptcy

Peabody Energy Corp., the United States’s largest coal mining company, hinted Wednesday that it may need to file for bankruptcy protection. 

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company issued a “going-concern” notice, a filing that indicates the company may not have the resources it needs to continue operating, Bloomberg Business reports

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“There can be no assurance that our plan to improve our operating performance and financial position will be successful,” Peabody said in the filing. “We may need to voluntarily seek protection under Chapter 11.”

Peabody has looked to negotiate down its debt with its lenders. The company — and the coal industry as a whole — faces a worsening market for its product, with cheap natural gas and environmental regulations crowding out coal as power plants’ go-to power source.

Peabody also said Wednesday it would delay a $71 million interest payment on loans. The company now has a 30-day grace period to make those payments.   

If Peabody were to file for bankruptcy, it would be the latest and largest in a string of coal companies to take the step. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and Arch Coal Inc., the second-largest coal company in the U.S., have both declared bankruptcy in the last year. 

Peabody’s shares fell by 43 percent as of Wednesday morning. The company’s shares had already lost 97 percent of their value over the last year.