Slimmed-down coal producer Alpha emerges from bankruptcy

Alpha Natural Resources and its affiliates announced that on July 26 they successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The reorganized company is a smaller, privately-held company operating 18 coal mines and eight preparation plants in West Virginia and Kentucky. Alpha’s larger mines, including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte surface operations in Wyoming, were spun off to creditors under the name Contura Energy.

David Stetson, who was appointed CEO of the reorganized company, said: “By completing this restructuring, ANR emerges as a company with a solid financial foundation and a strong team to continue to mine and sell coal. We are now also better positioned to satisfy ANR’s environmental responsibilities. I am confident — even though coal markets continue to be challenged by both competitive and regulatory pressures — the company created by our Plan of Reorganization will have the structure, resources, and talent to successfully weather these challenges.”

Stetson added: “There are many people to thank. ANR could not have successfully completed this process without the loyalty and work of employees across our organization. During the restructuring, we reached important agreements with key stakeholders that will create a more sustainable business model going forward, and we appreciate their support, which ensures our ability to continue serving our customers and playing a positive role in our communities.”

Stetson is a veteran coal executive with broad experience in the sector, including finance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, legal and reclamation. He most recently held leadership positions with Trinity Coal, RAAM Global Energy and JW Resources.

Alpha and its affiliates will have offices in Julian, West Virginia, and Kingsport, Tennessee, supporting operations at 14 mining complexes in Central Appalachia. Alpha supplies metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to generate power.

Alpha’s Crutchfield to lead Contura Energy

Contura Energy on July 26 separately announced its acquisition of certain core coal assets from Alpha. Formed and majority-owned by a group of Alpha’s first lien lenders, Contura said it is a well-capitalized entity, created to acquire and operate Alpha’s core operations in Northern Appalachia, the Powder River Basin and Central Appalachia. Specifically, Contura has acquired all of Alpha’s operations and reserves in Northern Appalachia (including the Cumberland longwall mine complex in southwest Pennsylvania) and the Powder River Basin, along with three Central Appalachian mining complexes:

  • the Nicholas mine complex in Nicholas County, West Virginia, and
  • the McClure and Toms Creek mine complexes in Dickenson and Wise counties, Virginia.

Contura also purchased Alpha’s interest in the Dominion Terminal Associates coal export terminal in eastern Virginia.   

Initial financial information about Contura Energy can be found at

Contura will be led by Alpha veteran Kevin Crutchfield as Chief Executive Officer, with a workforce of over 2,200 former Alpha employees.

“Today marks the successful culmination of a complex and arduous process, made possible by the tireless work of countless employees, collaboration among a diverse stakeholder group, and the unwavering commitment of Contura’s management team and owners to achieve a positive outcome,” said Crutchfield.  “The result is the creation of a strong operational asset base, well-positioned to serve unique customer needs in today’s challenged coal market.”

Contura also announced the formation of its Board of Directors. Appointed Directors include: Crutchfield; Albert E. Ferrara, Jr., Retired Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of AK Steel; Jonathan Segal, Managing Director at Highbridge Capital Management LLC; and Neale Trangucci, Principal at NXT Partners LLC. Additional members may be announced upon appointment.

The buyers were advised by Ducera Partners LLC and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Alpha was advised by Rothschild & Co. and Jones Day.

Contura Energy is a private, Tennessee-based company with affiliate mining operations across multiple major coal basins in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. It reliably supplies both metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to generate power.

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.