Monday, November 5, 2012

Markets watching coal in collapse



Alpha Natural Resources – A 2010 mine explosion at subsidiary Massey killed 29 workers. Families of the miners and angry shareholders alike responded with a barrage of lawsuits. Many are pending, but some have been settled via levies, improved safety measures, restitution, and the establishment of a mine safety charity. Natural Resource Partners (NYSE: NRP ) is in the fight, too, as 22% of its revenue originates from Alpha. 
Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI ) – Engaging in mountaintop removal is a fast track to make enemies of environmentalists. With lawsuits bouncing back and forth between the EPA, Corps of Engineers, and Arch, the core issue of most battles is water contamination. Rulings are mixed, and many are pending.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF ) – Partners can be pricey. A Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO ) mine in Nevada has been cleaning up its river-polluting act since 2001. As of 2012, Rio has agreed to pay $25 million to clean up the old mine and river, and Cliffs will foot about half of that.

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU ) – Superfund sites are rarely fun. Its Gold Fields subsidiary is the not-so-proud owner of 11 sites damaged from pre-1950's mining. Clean-up-related costs are currently estimated at just under $50 million, but Peabody expects liability to drop to $8 million over time.

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