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Owner Of Coal Mine Outside Of Paonia Files For Bankruptcy

Flickr user: oatsy40

Arch Coal announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. The company operates the West Elk Mine outside of Paonia and is the second largest coal company in the U.S.   

In a release, Arch Coal says it plans to continue mining operations and coal shipments during the process. The company also says it intends to continue paying employee wages and benefits.

Arch Coal hopes to shed $4.5 billion dollars in debt.  

Stuart Sanderson, the president of the Colorado Mining Association, calls the news concerning. However, he says the company’s West Elk Mine is one of the state's most productive.

"The information that I have received from the company and from my discussions with company officials is that they intend to continue operations at that site," Sanderson says.  "The West Elk is one of the jewels of Arch's enterprise."

For more on the bankruptcy and the struggling coal industry, here's KVNF's Laura Palmisano speaking with economist Roger Coupal from the University of Wyoming.

Coupal says debts that the company can't cover, the low price of coal, increased competition from natural gas, and weak demand from China likely contributed to the bankruptcy decision. 

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