Monday, March 21, 2016
It's not government regulation that is sinking Big Coal
That honor is going to the Banksters of America who are declaring their unwillingness to finance any more coal projects. The result is that after hauling away so many mountain tops, Mr. Peabody's Coal Company is itself being hauled away to bankruptcy court.
America’s coal industry is now facing another dark hour, but this time there are few financiers willing to save it.Coal companies can deal with regulations, one way or another they have done so for years. One thing a coal company can't do without is financing. If the banks won't deal with you, Jack, you dead.
Mr. Morgan’s bank, now JPMorgan Chase, announced two weeks ago that it would no longer finance new coal-fired power plants in the United States or other wealthy nations. The retreat follows similar announcements by Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley that they are, in one way or another, backing away from coal.
While coal has been declining over the last several years, Wall Street’s broad retreat is an ominous sign for the industry.
“There are always going to be periods of boom and bust,” said Chiza Vitta, a metals and mining analyst with the credit rating firm Standard & Poor’s. “But what is happening in coal is a downward shift that is permanent.”
On Wednesday the world’s largest private-sector coal company, Peabody Energy, said that it might have to file for bankruptcy protection, following a path already taken by three of the nation’s other large coal companies.
Peabody has been trying to sell three of its mines in Colorado and New Mexico to raise cash. But the sale to Bowie Resource Partners appears to have stalled amid the difficult financing environment. Bowie did not comment. A Peabody spokesman said the company “stands ready to complete the sale of assets to Bowie.”
Coal, like railroads, steel and other engines of the nation’s industrial expansion in the 19th and early 20th centuries, helped drive Wall Street’s profits for generations. More than a century later, the coal industry is in a free fall and the banks are pulling away.
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