Alpha files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection


BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — Alpha Natural Resources is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the fourth big coal producer to do so within the last two years.

The company operates about 60 coal mines throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wyoming.

Coal prices have plunged in recent years as utilities have switched increasingly to natural gas, partly because of price, but also because of changing regulations.

President Barack Obama on Monday is expected to require even steeper greenhouse gas cuts from U.S. power plants.

Alpha Natural Resources Inc., based in Bristol, Virginia, made its bankruptcy filing with United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond. The company said that it will promptly seek the necessary relief from the court that will allow its normal business operations to continue uninterrupted.

Alpha has secured a debtor-in-possession financing package of up to about $692 million that will help it to reorganize.

The company said that its current management team is expected to stay in place through the bankruptcy process.

Last month Alpha said that its shares were going to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

Alpha said Monday that the filing allows it to reorganize and eventually become better positioned to compete in the energy markets.

Rivals Patriot Coal Corp., Walter Energy Inc. and James River Coal Co., have already sought bankruptcy protection.

Alpha will no longer report its second-quarter financial results as scheduled on Wednesday.

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