Peachtree assets to be auctioned

A SOUTHERN West Virginia operation that was idled after being issued a US Mine Safety and Health Administration safety warning in July is going to auction.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Associated Press, Peachtree Ridge Mining, the owner of the Eagle No. 1 operation in Raleigh County, is looking for bids exceeding $US12 million for the mine.

It is also looking to sell its Eagle No. 2 mine in Wyoming County and other company assets in the auction. All were listed in an October bankruptcy protection filing.

"If we have more than one offer, then we conduct an auction," company bankruptcy attorney Stephen Thompson told the news service.

"We could get an offer for less than that, but there's a reserve and we would take any offers to the court."

It is possible a lesser offer would be considered, he added.

Representatives for Kentucky-based Peachtree could not be reached for comment.

Eagle No. 1 was idled earlier this year after a June notice from MSHA that included it and seven other operators whose mines had a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards.

"The purpose of these letters is to put mine operators on notice about the repercussions they face if they repeatedly disregard mine safety and health regulations," MSHA assistant secretary Richard Stickler said at the time.

In August, Peachtree's former workers filed suit against the operator for non-payment of wages, the AP said. A payroll audit by the state's Division of Labor was completed as part of the case.

Court records list its current debts at $17.93 million and assets at over $17.88 million.

According to MSHA records, during the first quarter of this year Eagle No. 1 produced about 195,000 tons and Eagle No. 2 produced over 41,000t. Last year, Eagle No. 1 produced just over 344,000t and employed 106 people, of whom 89 worked underground.