"Substantial events after that time, both inside and outside Patriot, significantly affected its future, from Patriot's transformational acquisition of Magnum Coal Company to Patriot's decisions to make significant changes in its capital structure," he said "Other factors were decreased demand for U.S. coal due to sharp declines in natural gas prices; the softening of the global steel markets; and more burdensome regulations. Patriot notes many of these same factors in its filings with the bankruptcy court."
In July, Patriot filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking to reorganize. Court filings said that what the company calls "unsustainable labor-related legacy liabilities" related to UMW pension and health-care programs are among Patriot's biggest financial problems.
Patriot employs about 2,000 active union members in West Virginia and Kentucky, and the company is currently responsible for more than 10,000 retirees and another 10,000 dependents, most of them in West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.
Patriot has yet to submit its proposed reorganization plan. But UMW officials fear the company will seek a judge's approval to weaken the union's contract for active miners and stop paying into pension and health-care plans for retirees.
In its management matters, Hatfield had been promoted to president of Patriot in May, after serving as the company's chief operating officer. Patriot said Hatfield's leadership "will be invaluable as we undertake changes necessary to position the company for future success."
Hatfield is a former Massey Energy official who was CEO of International Coal Group when the Sago Mine Disaster occurred in January 2006. Arch Coal has since acquired ICG.
"It is a privilege to be entrusted by the board to lead this Company," Hatfield said. "My goal is to take the actions necessary to restore Patriot's viability and keep our nearly 4,000 employees working. We want to complete the reorganization of Patriot as swiftly and effectively as possible."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.