WVDEP, Alpha Natural Resources Reach $15 Million Settlement
In early November, five months after that agreement was finalized, Alpha announced a $100 million error in the financial projections underlying its bankruptcy plan, which included the DEP settlement. The company simultaneously announced a new proposed settlement with Contura Energy and its former secured creditors that partially reduced that gap. However, DEP remained concerned about the effects of Alpha’s reduced cash flow projections and brought suit in Alpha’s bankruptcy case. The new settlement resolves that lawsuit. Under the settlement, DEP has agreed to dismiss the complaint and release the defendants from liability relating to the error in the financial projections. In exchange, Alpha agreed to post its Julian headquarters building, which recently appraised for $6.3 million, as collateral securing its remaining reclamation obligations in West Virginia.
In addition, Contura agreed to post a $4 million letter of credit and issue a secured $4.5 million guaranty of Alpha’s obligations, each through the end of 2018. By that time, Alpha expects its financial condition to return to the level projected in its prior bankruptcy projections. “The settlement provides the state with significant additional bonding and other security to ensure that reclamation will be done,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman. “It also helps to ensure that Alpha will remain a viable operating company with sufficient resources to perform required land reclamation and water treatment.”
The agreement is subject to approval of the bankruptcy court and the fulfillment of other conditions. Both Alpha and Contura said they were pleased with the resolution. “We have always been of the view that Contura’s officers had acted in good faith in all respects, including in connection with the Alpha plan process, and we welcome this positive resolution,” said Neale Trangucci, independent director of Contura.
Alpha CEO David Stetson said, “Alpha is pleased that the concerns raised by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with respect to the proposed settlement between Alpha, Contura Energy and the agent for Alpha’s former firstlien lenders have been fully addressed.”