Peabody Energy files for bankruptcy-because coal is a zombie industry

And then there was one.

On Wednesday, Peabody Energy, the largest coal-mining company in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Its stock is at about $2, and its market value is a piddly $38 million.

That left only a single stock in the Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index that is not in bankruptcy: Consol Energy, worth about $3 billion. The coal index is now off 93 percent in the past five years. One by one, many of the nation’s publicly held mining companies have filed for bankruptcy: Patriot Coal filed for Chapter 11 last May,Walter Energy sought protection last July, and Alpha Natural Resources succumbed in August. In January, Arch Coal, the second-largest U.S. miner, filed for Chapter 11. And so their stocks have stopped trading.

We’re witnessing something that we rarely see in America: the sudden and sharp collapse of a functioning industry.


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