Just declaring an end to the “war on coal” doesn’t mean coal companies no longer have to battle for survival. This week, Armstrong Energy based in Missouri but with big operations in western Kentucky filed for bankruptcy.
It was the first coal company to enter into bankruptcy since President Trump took office nearly a year ago. Experts say the move was brought on by cheap natural gas. Armstrong produces thermal coal but there’s been a drop in demand as many power plants switch to gas.
The company blamed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy on debt obligations totaling more than $100 million.
Armstrong would not reveal how many workers it employed but warned last month it would have to lay off 110 people who work at two of its facilities. The company said it will transfer its assets to a new business owned by Knight Hawk, an Illinois coal company.
The bankruptcy only added to the skepticism of economic analysts who believe President Trump’s declaration of ending the war on coal isn’t enough to save the industry.
“Him saving coal jobs was smoke and mirrors,” said Andrew Cosgrove, senior analyst on global metals & mining at Bloomberg Intelligence. “It was never going to happen because low natural gas prices are the main problem. That will continue to cap any upside for coal.”