HELENA, Mont. — One of the oldest coal companies in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday to deal with more than $1.4 billion in debt amid declining demand for the fuel.
Englewood, Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston as part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders.
Westmoreland, which operates mines across the U.S. and Canada, is the fourth major coal company to file for bankruptcy in the past three years, joining Peabody Energy Corp., Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources.
Westmoreland officials said in a statement that operations won’t be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions.
“After months of thoughtful and productive conversations with our creditors, we have developed a plan that allows Westmoreland to operate as usual while positioning Westmoreland for long-term success,” interim CEO Michael Hutchinson said in the statement.
Coal companies have struggled as demand drops due to a glut of cheap natural gas, the rise of renewable energy sources and plans by some states to reduce or eliminate coal from their energy portfolios.
There are no new coal plants being built in the U.S., and two major coal consumers, China and India, have canceled projects as they seek to reduce air pollution.
Westmoreland officials warned in August that declining industry conditions and significant debt “give rise to substantial doubt about our ability to pay our obligations as they come due,” according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.