Murray Energy sues rival coal producer over property issues

Murray Energy, the largest independent coal producer in the U.S., said July 7 that it filed on July 3 in an Illinois court a lawsuit against Foresight Energy LP’s Williamson Energy LLC subsidiary.

Foresight Energy is a company, founded by coal operator Chris Cline, that recently went public in an IPO. It over the last few years has aggressively expanded its coal production in Illinois. Murry Energy for many years has operated the Galatia longwall mining complex in Saline County, Ill.

Murray Energy claims that Foresight/Williamson have illegally used Murray Energy’s confidential information to acquire property and mineral rights directly in the path of Murray Energy’s longwall mining operations in southern Illinois, with the clear intent to illegally block Murray Energy’s operations, to threaten the jobs of thousands of coal miners, and to gain unfair competitive advantage in a very depressed coal marketplace. “These property and mineral rights are far outside Foresight/Williamson’s mining areas,” Murray Energy added.

In its lawsuit, Murray Energy asks the court to:

  • Enter an injunction preventing Foresight/Williamson and its affiliates from: (a) continuing to breach the parties’ Confidentiality Agreement; and (b) purchasing or leasing any additional mining rights that interfere with Murray Energy’s mining operations in southern Illinois;
  • Issue an order compelling Foresight/Williamson to offer Murray Energy the mining rights to the properties Foresight/Williamson illegally acquired; and
  • Award Murray Energy the substantial damages caused by Foresight/Williamson’s alleged breach of contract.

The case, entitled Murray Energy Corporation v. Williamson Energy LLC, is pending in the First Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, Saline County.

Murray Energy is one of the largest employers in the U.S. coal industry and operates twelve active coal mines in six states. Its Galatia complex in Illinois is made up of two underground mines, with their latest U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration-reported production figures being: New Era, 1.5 million tons in the first quarter of this year and 4.4 million tons in 2013; and New Future, 1.4 million tons in the first quarter of this year and 5.5 million tons in 2013.

Foresight Energy has declined comment on the lawsuit.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.