Local miners for a coal company seeking bankruptcy protection are discovering that their most recent paychecks have vanished from bank accounts.
Revelation Energy and its subsidiary Blackjewel LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday in a West Virginia court. The company stated that it could not make payroll for July.
One local banker said his bank had more than 30 payroll checks returned on July 3.
Television news channel WYMT in Hazard, Ky., reported Wednesday afternoon that Blackjewel employees in Harlan County learned that payroll checks which had been deposited had vanished from their accounts.
The story cited a Facebook posting by Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley, who wrote that checks issued June 28 had bounced.
“Many coal miners' accounts have been overdrawn as a result of these checks not clearing the banks. Some folks are on vacation hundreds of miles from home. They are finding out that their checking accounts have overdrawn balances because the payroll checks that were issued for the last pay period that these miners worked are no good. Some are trying to figure out just how they're going to be able to get back home.”
Revelation Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal companies, has a significant presence in Virginia.
The company, based in Milton, W.Va., stated in its Chapter 11 filing that it owes at least $500 million in liabilities.
Revelation and BlackJewel have operations near coal camps surrounding Appalachia and in Lee, Russell and Buchanan counties. Also, the company has a significant presence across Black Mountain in Harlan County, Ky.
The two companies hold 79 mine permits in Virginia, according to Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy spokesperson Tarah Kesterson. She said 58 permits are publicly listed at this time, while the others “are in different stages of being transferred” and she could not provide details about them at this time.
Among the 58 listed permits, Revelation holds 19 permits in Wise County for surface and underground operations, with a total of more than 2,270 acres under permit. Blackjewel holds seven permits in Wise County, with more than 622 acres under permit.
As of 2018, the companies employed 484 people in Virginia, according to Kesterson.
Among Revelation’s Virginia assets is Arch Coal Inc.’s former Lone Mountain Processing Co. complex, which extends into Kentucky. Revelation purchased Lone Mountain in 2017.
The status of the Virginia operations was unclear as of Wednesday.
According to the office of Wise County Treasurer Delores Smith, the companies owe more than $1,000 in 2019 real estate taxes at this time. However, the companies’ personal property and machinery and tools tax amounts are not yet available.
Revelation/Blackjewel was listed as the nation’s sixth largest coal producer in 2017, mining nearly 37.25 million short tons.