Peabody Energy filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy last week.
Peabody Energy filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. Lee Constable

UPDATE: CFMEU National President meets with Peabody

UPDATE Monday 2.30pm: CFMEU National President Tony Maher met with Peabody Energy representatives this morning, seeking insight into the impacts of their filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in America on their Australian mines.

But he said many of the key questions were "not capable of being answered at this stage", because Peabody's fate was in the hands of bankruptcy courts.

He said he had wanted to find out if Australian mines were likely to be sold, and if so, who the likely buyers would be.

"I'm not going to tell our workers it's all hunky dory, just in case it's not," Mr Maher said.

"But I don't see anything imminent for our Australian operations.

"(Peabody's Australian assets) are good operations, not struggling mines."

Peabody wanted to clarify filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in America, was very different to going into bankruptcy in Australia.

 

  • In Australia:  "Bankruptcy is a legal status where a person who cannot afford to repay the debt owed to a creditor is removed from controlling their financial situation either voluntarily or forced. Bankruptcy offers protection from creditors further pursuing people for payment." (Source: The Law Handbook 2016)

 

  • In America: "This chapter of the Bankruptcy Code generally provides for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11." (Source: United States Courts)

 

UPDATE 4pm: ENERGY analyst Tim Buckley is taking claims that Peabody Energy's filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US will have no impact on Australian operations with a grain of salt.

The Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis director said that it would be "rather optimistic" to believe such a forecast, since it was predicted by the very people who "drove the company into the ground".

 "For management to be making press releases and claims, well they're no longer in control," Mr Buckley said.

"They had control and ran it into the ground and they've got debts coming out their eyeballs."

He said the administrators  would be able to offer a more realistic projection of the companies future in Australia, but as they had only been in control one day, would require more time to make their assessment.

He explained filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy was the Australian equivalent of going into administration.

Peabody's Wilkie Creek mine is in care and maintenance mode, and a Peabody Energy spokeswoman said progressive rehabilitation work continued to occur at the site.

But Mr Buckley said Peabody's bankruptcy "puts taxpayers in both Australia and the U.S. at risk from "self-bonding" allowances and underfunded rehabilitation bonds in which the company promised to pay for billions of dollars in cleanup costs and that Peabody will probably now try to dodge".

The Queensland Resource's Council declined The Daily Mercury's offer to comment.

LISTEN: Energy analyst Tim Buckley is sceptical about Peabody's claim Australia will not be impacted:

 

 

UPDATE 1.30pm: CFMEU are continuing to seek assurances from Peabody Energy that no Australian operations will be impacted following their filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.

CFMEU district vice president Steve Pierce said the union had fieled between 50 and 100 phone calls from Mackay members following the bankcuptcy announcement yesterday afternoon.

He was concerned by the level "Peabody was not engaging" with the union.

"While they're saying we won't be affected, if it's liquidated in the US, I don't know if they can really say that because even for their Australian business, all roads lead back to America," Mr Pierce said.

"We are concerned by the level they are not engaging because people's livelihoods are on the line here. There's a lot more information that could be shared."

The CFMEU also sent a statement about Peabody this afternoon:

"The CFMEU is calling on Peabody to engage closely and regularly with the Union and workforce on developments pertaining to bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

"It is encouraging that Peabody has indicated Australian mines will be unaffected.

"Peabody's Australian mines are strong and viable, despite volatile coal prices and difficult times for the industry.

"Peabody's workforce needs greater assurances from the company about the future.

"The company has a responsibility to their local workforce of more than 3,500 to ensure the continued operation of mines in Australia.

"Peabody needs to open the communication lines with the CFMEU and guarantee that jobs are secure and entitlements are protected.

"The union will be watching this issue as it develops to ensure that workers aren't made to take the brunt of cuts to buoy the failed international operations."

 

UPDATE 6.20pm: CFMEU district vice president Steve Pierce said the union is now trying to contact Peabody Energy to determine if Australian workers would be impacted by it's filing for bankruptcy in the US.

He said the union had first tried to find out the impacts of the mining giant folding two months ago when "it looked like all was going pear-shaped".

"We got wishy-washy answers back then," he said.

"This announcement puts a bit more emphasis on it."

A Peabody Energy spokeswoman has said Australian operations will not be impacted.

 

EARLIER: PEABODY Energy has today announced it is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.

However it has said it's Australian platform is not part of the filing and will not be impacted.

Peabody Energy owns six Queensland mines, including five in the Bowen Basin.

"Taking a major step to strengthen liquidity and reduce debt amid an unprecedented industry downturn, Peabody Energy Corporation today voluntarily filed petitions under Chapter 11 for the majority of its U.S. entities in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri," a press release stated.

"Through this process, the company intends to reduce its overall debt level, lower fixed charges, improve operating cash flow and position the company for long-term success, while continuing to operate under the protection of the court process.

" All of the company's mines and offices are continuing to operate in the ordinary course of business and are expected to continue doing so for the duration of the process. No Australian entities are included in the filings, and Australian operations are continuing as usual.

Peabody President and chief executive officer Glenn Kellow said the move was for the long term good of the company.

"This was a difficult decision, but it is the right path forward for Peabody. We begin today to build a highly successful global leader for tomorrow," said Peabody President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow.

"Through today's action, we will seek an in-court solution to Peabody's substantial debt burden amid a historically challenged industry backdrop. This 1Including the following international entity: Peabody Holdings (Gibraltar) LTD. process enables us to strengthen liquidity and reduce debt, build upon the significant operational achievements we've made in recent years and lay the foundation for long-term stability and success in the future."



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