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Arch Coal emerges from Chapter 11

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Photo by Bill Brunner Bill Brunner shot this photo of a coal train along the Gunnison River near Escalante Canyon. The photo was taken Oct. 8.

Arch Coal announced last week that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from court protection, with new equity that will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ARCH.

Arch Coal operates West Elk Mine near Somerset.

Kathy Welt, environmental engineer, reports the "mine is hanging in there" with a reduced workforce of about 214. She was unable to attend a municipal quarterly meeting hosted by the Delta County Commissioners, but provided a written report noting that Arch Coal will emerge from bankruptcy with substantially less debt. "Our plan is to survive this downturn and to continue operating for several more years to come," she said.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era for Arch Coal," John W. Eaves, Arch's chief executive officer said in a press release dated Oct. 5. "We are extremely pleased with what we have accomplished during our highly expeditious restructuring process, and are eager to move forward with our compelling plan for value creation. I am confident we have all the pieces in place for long-term success -- an extraordinary workforce, cost-competitive assets, a high-quality reserve base, a clean balance sheet and an excellent management team."

Arch emerges as the leading producer of metallurgical coal and the second largest producer of thermal coal in the United States, with a streamlined portfolio of large, modern, low-cost mines. Arch's operations have a proven track record of generating cash through all phases of the market cycle, with significant upside in rising price environments.

Arch is emerging with more than $300 million of cash on its balance sheet and a debt level of just $363 million, consisting of a new term loan and capital leases. The company's total debt is just 7 percent of what it was prior to restructuring. Cash requirements are expected to be modest, with projected capital spending of $55 million in 2017 and projected debt service of approximately $33 million. In addition, the company has third-party surety bonds in place covering 100 percent of its reclamation bonding requirements.

"We are particularly pleased to be emerging in a resurgent metallurgical market, and look forward to similar strengthening in thermal coal markets in the months ahead," Eaves said. "With our enhanced financial foundation and top-tier assets, we believe we are exceptionally well-positioned to capitalize on both."

"We are enthusiastic about Arch's promising future and the potential to drive sustainable value creation for our shareholders," Eaves continued. "I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Arch's employees, who have been instrumental in achieving this excellent outcome. Looking ahead, we will continue our efforts to manage costs rigorously, provide superior service to our customers and strengthen relationships with our business partners, while demonstrating the same unwavering commitment to mine safety and environmental protection that has become a hallmark of our great company."

U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. is a top coal producer for the global steel and power generation industries, reliably serving customers worldwide. Its network of large-scale, low-cost mining complexes and high-quality metallurgical and thermal reserves are located in the most strategic coal supply basins in the United States. For more information, visit www.archcoal.com.

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