By Sarah Mansheim
Greenbrier County billionaire and Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice has announced he has bought back the coal mines he sold to a Russian company several years ago for less than 1 percent of what he sold it for.
On Feb. 12, the Jim Justice family paid $5 million for Bluestone, a mining facility located in McDowell and Wyoming counties from Mechel OAO. Justice sold the same facility to Mechel for a reported cash and stock deal valued at $568 million in 2009. Mechel idled Bluestone last April, citing low coal prices.
Justice said the new company, Bluestone Resources Inc., will create 150 coal mining jobs with room for growth. The company now owns a reported 565 million tons of metallurgical coal at the sites.
Bloomberg.com reports the sale stems from Mechel’s restructuring of its debts in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy. Bluestone lost an average of $60 million a year since 2012; the sale will settle a dispute over payment obligations arising from the 2009 sale. Mechel will receive 12.5 percent of any future sale of Bluestone or its assets within five years, and 10 percent from a sale thereafter. Bloomberg reports that Bluestone will also pay the Russian company a royalty of $3/metric ton of coal mined and sold.
Last November, NPR reported a joint investigation between NPR and Mine Safety and Health News (MSHN) found that Justice is listed as the third most delinquent mine operator in the United States, owing over $2 million in fines spread over 71 mines.