Coal producer Fortress Resources LLC on Nov. 5 filed for Chapter 11 protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
It immediately asked the court to let it retain, employ and compensate W. Thomas Bunch II and other attorneys of the law firm of Bunch & Brock, Lexington, Kentucky, as bankruptcy counsel. Court filings show that Opes Resources Inc., c/o Gary J. Smith, President, is the 99% owner of Fortress Resources.
Said the Opes website: “Opes Resources Inc. is a Canadian privately-held company established in 2011 with a view to building a sustainably competitive and socially responsible thermal, PCI and metallurgical coal company with operations in the United States. Its centre of operations are headquartered out of Virginia, USA.
“The company was established to become an efficient low-cost producer of thermal, PCI, and Stoker coal in the Central Appalachians. Through our majority-owned US subsidiary, Fortress Resources LLC, we completed the acquisition of 100% of the assets of McCoy Elkhorn Coal Company from James River Coal Company in September 2014.” Notable is that James River Coal was in bankruptcy at the time and this asset sale was part of the dismantling of that company.
Said the website about Gary Smith, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer: “Mr. Smith is a mining executive with over 36 years of Appalachian coal mining experience covering all facets of operations. Mr. Smith has worked for several major mining companies in the Central Appalachian coal region. Seven years of his employment were with BethEnergy (a division of Bethlehem Steel Corporation) where he received experience with shortwall and longwall mining, as well as front line supervisory position. He served as president of Westmoreland Coal’s Kentucky Criterion operation in Letcher County Kentucky. This was a greenfield startup operation and generated over $12 million annually EBITDA on 3 million tons in a $24 market. He was Senior Vice President for Progress Fuels/Electric Fuels operating Kentucky May, Diamond May and Powell Mountain coal companies, which generated over $90 million profits annually with 450 employees and a production level of over nine million tons per year. Mr. Smith has also worked for AMVEST Corporation and Penn Virginia Resources.”
Various motions have been filed with the court related to keeping the company in operation during this bankruptcy case. On Nov. 13, Fortress filed with the court an agreed order worked out with lender Callidus Capital for interim use, until Nov. 24, of the bankrupt company’s cash collateral.