Update: Judge approves bid for Black Mountain, Lone Mountain mines
The sale to Kopper Glo Mining is not final until the company goes through the proper paperwork and documentation along with some other background work. However, miners are closer to getting answers after nearly a month in the dark.
"Been here all week and stuck it through and you know it's a victory for us," said Jeff Willig, a miner.
Miners who have been protesting since the beginning say Kopper Glo's purchase is a win for them.
"We're still owed money, and we're still gonna stand until something is promised, set in stone written on paper that we're gonna be taken care of," said miner Jerod Blevins.
With still a lot of unanswered questions, miners say they will not move until they see a check.
"They come to us with proof, of what they're gonna do then our stand here will be over finally but it's just a wonderful feeling," said Chris Rowe, a miner.
Attorneys say the miners do have priority lien on the $6-million purchase which gives them a chance to get further compensation other than that $1-million Kopper Glo promised.
Throughout the last month and the foreseeable future, one thing resonates with these men and their families.
"You know the support shown, we could never thank each and every one of you all, yeah, anybody that watches, knows or hears, we could never thank anyone enough for the support and the donations that's been given throughout this whole entire process," said Blevins.
The bankruptcy judge in Charleston, West Virginia approved Kopper Glo's bid to purchase the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines in Harlan County.
The sale is not finalized at this time.
Attorneys Ned Pillersdorf and Sam Petsonk said Kopper Glo pledged $450,000 to cover the back wages of all miners regardless of whether those miners come back to work. The company also pledged an additional $550,000 to go to the same fund from anticipated future royalties, the attorneys said.
This amount represents nearly half of what Kentucky Blackjewel miners lost.
"In order to recover the rest of what they are owed, the miners also have a priority lien against the six million dollars that Kopper Glo will pay to the debtor at the closing," Pillersdorf posted on Facebook. "We will have to compete against other lien holders for the miners' share of the six million. However, we believe that all or nearly all of the lien holders have separately resolved their liens, and so our primary competitors will be the government."
Kopper Glo's attorney told Pillersdorf and Petsonk the company's intention is to operate the mines and employ as many of the Blackjewel miners as possible.
"It's a weight off everyone's shoulders, or mine anyway," said David Lee Pratt Jr., a Blackjewel miner.
Pillersdorf and Petsonk will be at the Harlan County train tracks, where Blackjewel miners have been protesting for more than a week, Wednesday at 2 p.m. to answer questions.
The fate of a handful of Blackjewel mines is still up in the air, including the mines in Kentucky.
Tuesday is day two of the Blackjewel hearings in Charleston, West Virginia. Blackjewel attorneys hope to get approval to sell the rest of the mines.
Miners and their families protesting at the train tracks outside Cloverlick Mine #3 in Cumberland patched into the courtroom via a phone call, planning to listen all day.
These miners did not make another trip up to Charleston Tuesday. They left the courtroom Monday night with no answers after making the long trek.
The biggest disagreement involved Kopper Glo and Caterpillar. Kopper Glo won the bid for the Black Mountain and Lone Mountain mines after a three-day auction in Cincinnati. But the bid is at risk because Caterpillar asked Kopper Glo to carve out their equipment from the deal, and Kopper Glo did not want to agree to that.
Gathered around a car, with the proceedings blasting through a speaker, these miners are just waiting for any sign that they might be paid.
"You know, we just, they're just anxious like we are. And I... we hope to get answers today and that's the big question," said Jeff Willig, a former Blackjewel miner. "Are we going to get that, are we gonna get those answers?"
A handful of properties in the east have been sold so far. But if the judges and attorneys do not figure out how to pay these miners, the folks set up on the tracks said they will not go anywhere.
"There's not a whole lot that really, as far as answers-wise. We do know that we're getting closer to getting our wages given to us," said Chris Rowe, another miner. "There's so much, there's so much that goes on with what they're dealing with it's hard to just pinpoint one thing. It's just a waiting game."
As of 5:30 p.m. it is unclear whether a deal will be made Tuesday night.