Coal giant Peabody Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday.
The country’s largest coal company made the announcement citing drops in prices and demand as well as regulatory challenges.
Originally founded in Chicago, Peabody is based in St. Louis Missouri. They listed 7,600 employees at the end of 2015. Their website lists 570 workers in Illinois. The company has an ownership stake in 26 mines across the U.S. and Australia.
Its U.S. mines are located in Illinois and five other states.
Peabody owns the Wildcat Hills, Cottage Grove and Gateway Mines in Southern Illinois.
A spokesperson with the company says business will continue as usual, adding that they have no intention of cutting jobs.
Bob Sandidge, leader of the Coal Miner’s Movement, a non-profit representing 28,000 miners around the country says they’ve been seeing area miners laid off for months. But he says the move still came as a shock.
"Yeah, another blow. Another hit to the coal industry. People have been talking about and talking about it for days now but nobody ever thought the largest coal producer in the world would do this, but they have," said Bob Sandidge, leader of the Coal Miner’s Movement.
An area coal contractor, Sandidge says people all around Southern Illinois and the country will feel the effects of the decision.
Peabody also owns a five percent share in the Prairie State Energy Campus which supplies Paducah Power. Prairie State is controlled by nine owners. They released a statement saying, “The owners’ participation agreements were written in a way to protect them in an event of something like this. Our customers should not be affected.”
Bankruptcy attorney Steve Vidmer says chapter 11 bankruptcy keeps creditors from suing a business while they work on plans to pay them back. A judge and Peabody’s creditors must agree to that payment plan.
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