Two Wyoming coal mines close, idling 700 workers

Two Wyoming coal mines close, idling 700 workers
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The owner of two Wyoming coal mines filed for bankruptcy and closed two mines on Monday, sending 700 workers home. 

Blackjewel LLC, the operator of the country's fourth- and sixth-largest producing coal mines, was denied $20 million in financing by the United Bank of West Virginia, CEO Jeffery Hoop told the Casper Star-Tribune

Court documents show that Blackjewel owes $500 million in liabilities, including $6 million to employees, according to the Star-Tribune.

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Coal companies such as Blackjewel have faced increasing competition from natural gas and renewable energy. 

“We just advised them that the mines are out of order until further notice we are continuing to try to solve the problem,” Hoop told the newspaper of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, located near Gillette, Wyo.

“United Bank was really insensitive. They put (about) 700 people’s lives, (they) really turned their lives upside down,” he added. 

In 2016, 460 workers were laid off in the region by two other nearby mines. 

“Really what we are concerned about are the workers that are affected, and similar to what we did in 2016, we are going to do everything we can to make sure they are taken care of, whether that’s retraining with college education or workforce services,” City of Gillette spokesman Geno Palazzari told the Star-Tribune.