Phoenix Coal shifts focus underground

ILLINOIS Basin player Phoenix Coal will shift its focus underground with the sale of its surface mining operations to private Ohio-based producer Oxford Mining.
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A Phoenix facility working to load coal. Courtesy Phoenix Coal.

Donna Schmidt

The deal closed on September 30.

Kentucky-based Phoenix now has a cash balance of about $US22.4 million with an additional $3.3 million in escrow related to the transaction which will be released over the next 18 months.

"For Oxford, the Muhlenberg County surface mining business will bring diversification to an already strong foundation of assets and people in Ohio. Most importantly, Phoenix is now in an outstanding position to execute on its primary objective, which is to maximize the value of the Gryphon mining complex,” Phoenix president and chief executive David Wiley said.

The producer is progressing with the Gryphon development while fielding enquiries and solicitations from potential customers.

Phoenix is also securing additional property while evaluating options, including the possibility of monetizing or progressing with the complex as a joint venture.

“After eliminating our long-term debt and strengthening our cash position from the Oxford transaction, we can now capitalize on Gryphon and potential opportunities in the market," Wiley noted.

Oxford Mining president and chief executive Charles Ungurean said the newly acquired surface operations would produce 8 million tons annually.

"This transaction provides us an entry into Kentucky and the Illinois Basin and will significantly increase Oxford's scale, both from a coal reserve life and volume capacity standpoint. The Illinois Basin has been a key regional expansion focus for us due to its proximity to our existing operations and its similar mining techniques and terrain,” he said.

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