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World’s Largest Coal Miner Peabody’s Warning For Bankruptcy Doesn’t Indicate End of Coal Era

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(Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images) Pieces of coal sit on a table as Gregory Boyce, president and chief executive officer of Peabody Energy Corp., speaks during a hearing on coal energy in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. A hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence was disrupted today when protestors wearing masks began yelling as Boyce testified on the coal industry. Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee Hearing On Coal
March 17
7:05 AM 2016

Peabody Energy Corp., St Louis, Missouri based coal mining company, has warned on early Wednesday of going bankrupt. The warning from the world's largest private coal producing company signals the end of an era for listed U.S. corporate coal companies. The industry has been witnessing the brink of extinction though their miners continue to fuel a big chunk of the country's power stations.

Chapter 11 filing by the coal miner has appeared as the latest in a wave of bankruptcies to hit top American coal producers. The bankrupt list includes Arch Coal Inc., Alpha Natural Resources Inc., Patriot Coal Corp., and Walter Energy Inc., reports The Wall Street Journal.

US coal miners have reportedly been battling with new environment regulations and high debt levels due to low energy prices. Abundance of natural gas from shale drilling, conversion of coal fired power plants and decline in steels production have also appeared as causes behind the industry debacle.

The Peabody regulatory filing has referred the ongoing losses and failure in certain interest payments as the indication for adopting a lay-off decision in the coming days. The company possesses a work-fleet of 7,600 employees engages in its operations.

The coal miner has reported a loss of $2 billion during last year compared to $787 million in 2014. Revenue has decreased 17% to $5.6 billion due to fall in average price and quantity of its sold-out coal. The mining company predicts for further decline in demand this year due to reduced use of coal by the US utilities accompanied by lower demand from overseas markets, according to a report published in CNN Money.

Following the filing, shares of Peabody have been witnessed to tumble around 43% on Wednesday morning in the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of the company have lost half of their value during the last three months while 97% over the past year. Price of a share has hit $299 during the first quarter of 2014, reports The Guardian.

Troubles of the teetering industry have attracted larger political debate among the US presidential hopefuls. Most Democrat candidates have advocated for a transformation towards cleaner energy sources getting concerned on the effects of burning fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, Republican hopefuls have expressed their concerns over job losses in the coal sector due to adoption of policies cutting carbon emissions. However, analysts don't consider this as the end of coal industry referring the fact that just under one-third of the US grid is still powered by coal. Furthermore, hundreds of mines are still profitable and operating, another point of their arguments.

Coal industry have reportedly passing through a nightmare due to abundance of natural gas from shale drilling, relative lower price and adoption of policies for cleaner energy sources. Republican president candidates have expressed their concerns over possible job cuts due to transformation towards cleaner energy. Filing of chapter 11 by Peabody Energy strengthens Republican candidates' points of argument, but by no mean indicate ending of coal industry.

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