Whitesburg KY

Firm is taking over Blackjewel mine near Eolia

Mark Energy LLC, one of the successful bidders in the Blackjewel Holdings bankruptcy liquidation, is filing a “notice of intent to mine” in Letcher County.

The company, which lists Kenneth W. Spangler and Mark Milslagle as its organizers, was formed June 11, 2018, with offices in Lexington and Eolia. It has since changed its address to a Whitesburg post office box.

The company was the successful bidder for Blackjewel LM 8 Mine near Eolia. The company has filed an application with the state Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement asking to transfer Blackjewel’s permit. The mine disturbs 109.61 acres of surface and underlies 5,118.43 acres, according to the permit notice. A copy of the notice will appear in next week’s legal notices in The Mountain Eagle. Persons who wish to comment must contact the state DMRE within 15 days of today.

Meanwhile, KopperGlo, the Knoxville, Tenn., company that won the bid for the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines in Harlan County and in Wise County, Va., had offered to pay each miner $450 now, and $550 from royalties after it begins mining coal. The average amount owed to each miner is more than $4,200 in wages and benefits. Miners say they won’t go back to work until they’re paid.

Ned Pillersdorf, an attorney for some of the miners, said that in addition to what KopperGlo has offered, the $6 million it paid for the mines is set aside in bankruptcy court and the miners have the first lien on that money. He said others were making claims on that money, but have since withdrawn them.

“Potentially, we may come out very well,” Pillersdorf said, adding that wage earners generally do not do well in bankruptcy court.

Investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor, state departments of labor and state attorneys general are also ongoing. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 16 that Blackjewel had repaid CEO Jeffrey Hoops most of $52.4 million in undocumented loans it says he made to the company in the six months prior to filing bankruptcy. Pillersdorf noted Monday that miners are owed a little over $2 million.

“Hoops could have taken $50 million instead of $52 million and the miners could have been paid,” he said.

In bankruptcy court filings, the company put the amount Hoops said he was personally repaid at $41.8 million and said $10. 6 million is still owed to him. His family is seeking another $11 million in addition to the money Hoops is seeking. Meanwhile, Hoops is building a resort in Milton, W.Va., called “The Grand Patrician” that includes a replica of the Roman Coliseum. The first phase of the resort, which does not include the coliseum, will reportedly cost $30 million.

Resort officials deny money that should go to debtors as part of the bankruptcy is being used for the resort, The Charleston Gazette reported.

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