CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A federal judge has approved Contura Energy's bid for three mines owned by the bankrupt Blackjewel coal company.
A Blackjewel spokesman says U.S. District Judge Frank Volk in West Virginia approved the sale Tuesday. The deal still needs the federal government's approval before it's finalized.
Contura has said it wants to reopen and rehire staffers from Blackjewel's Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming but still needs to determine employment decisions at the Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.
A Contura spokesman declined to comment Tuesday pending the federal government's approval. The Tennessee-based company had bid nearly $34 million for the three mines.
The judge also approved bids for several other Blackjewel mines in the two-day sales hearing.
Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 1.
Attorney Ned Pillersdorf explained the impact on his Facebook page Tuesday, writing the new owner, Kopper Glo, has pledged $450,000 to cover the back wages of all miners,
He says the miners will have to place a lien to get the rest of the money they're owed.
The miners have spent more than a week protesting on a set of train tracks to get that backpay.