Sunrise Coal operation closed

Tribune-Star/Austen LeakeHeld up: Hallador Energy has permanently its Carlisle Mine, impacting 90 full-time employees.

Updated with local officials reaction, 5:30 p.m.

Sunrise Coal has permanently closed its Carlisle mining operation in Sullivan County in an effort to reduce financial losses.

The announcement came Monday evening when the company posted its 2019 annual financial and operating results on its website.

"After experiencing negative free cash flow at Carlisle over the past 18 months,“we have decided to permanently close Carlisle which will further reduce our overall cost structure,"  said Brent Bilsland, president and chief executive officer of Hallador Energy Company. 

Some of Carlisle's equipment and parts will be moved to the Oaktown mining operation in Knox County.  

"As we reduce coal and parts inventories, we will generate significant cash to be utilized for debt reduction," Bilsland said.

In January, Hallador  announced Sunrise was idling production at Carlisle, causing an immediate reduction in force of its 90 employees.

The website report indicated that as a result of permanently closing the Carlisle mine, the company recorded an impairment of $65.7 million. 

Additionally, the company impaired the Bulldog reserve by $9.2 million and its Hourglass Sands project by $2.9 million. These three impairments totaled $77.9 million.

Hallador Energy is headquartered in Terre Haute, and through its wholly owned subsidiary, Sunrise Coal, LLC, produces coal in the Illinois Basin for the electric power generation industry.

Reaction to closure 

Sullivan County Commissioner John Waterman, a former state senator and former Sullivan County sheriff, said the closing of the Carlisle Mine "could be the start of a tail spin."

Waterman called the mine closing "devastating all around," saying it will impact other jobs that provided supplies to the mine.

Additionally, Waterman points to Hoosier Energy's announcement in January that it will close the Merom Generating Station in western Sullivan County in 2023, impacting about 185 utility workers. The 1,070-megawatt Merom Generating Station went online in 1982.

That power plant closing, Waterman said, could also impact production levels at Bear Run Mine, the largest U.S. surface coal mine east of the Mississippi River. That mine is also located in Sullivan County.

The overall effects on the tax base could be crippling for county government, Waterman said. 

Jim Exline, president of the Sullivan City Redevelopment Commission, said it is disappointing that Sullivan County is losing jobs with the closing of the mine.

"I think for most people in the community, it wasn't unexpected. It is clear that the coal and coal-fire power plants are facing strong headwinds, not just locally, but across the globe," Exline said. 

Exline said the city of Sullivan has been aggressive in trying to make the city attractive with new streets and trails. And now, elected officials in both the city and county must consider what economically can be attracted to replace coal mining jobs.

"It won't be easy or done in a snap," Exline said. "I think our state officials will need to work with local officials to help mitigate the pain in the near term and what will be the economic drivers for the southwest quadrant of the state when coal is no longer a dominate factor will require thought at the state level."

The Sunrise closing was expected, said Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb, but "having said that, it’s hard to wake up to news that impacts people you know and care about."

Lamb said Sullivan's administration "has already spent much of the day working with leaders in our community and region to develop a plan of action. We will be presenting a plan soon that will include county, state, economic and regional partners to help these families find not just hope, but a plan to move forward."

 Original story, 9:13 a.m. -- Sunrise Coal has permanently closed its Carlisle mining operation in an effort to reduce financial loss.

The announcement came Monday evening when the company posted its 2019 annual financial and operating results on its website.

"After experiencing negative free cash flow at Carlisle over the past 18 months,” said Brent Bilsland, president and chief executive officer of Hallador Energy Company, “we have decided to permanently close Carlisle which will further reduce our overall cost structure, maximize per ton margins and, reduce current and future capex by utilizing Carlisle equipment and parts at Oaktown. As we reduce coal and parts inventories, we will generate significant cash to be utilized for debt reduction."

In January, Hallador Energy announced Sunrise Coal was temporarily idling production at its Carlisle Mine causing an immediate reduction in force of its 90 employees.

The website report indicates that as a result of permanently closing the Carlisle mine, the company recorded an impairment of $65.7 million. Additionally, the company impaired the Bulldog reserve by $9.2 million and its Hourglass Sands project by $2.9 million. These three impairments totaled $77.9 million.

Hallador Energy is headquartered in Terre Haute, and through its wholly owned subsidiary, Sunrise Coal, LLC, produces coal in the Illinois Basin for the electric power generation industry.

To learn more about Hallador or Sunrise, go online to www.halladorenergy.com.

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