SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 001-38003
RAMACO RESOURCES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction
250 West Main Street, Suite 1800
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered on which registered
Common Stock, $0.01 par value
NASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No X
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No X
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes X No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes X No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. X
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued is audit report. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No X
As of June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $21.5 million.
As of February 15, 2021, the registrant had 42,637,302 shares of common stock outstanding.
Documents Incorporated by Reference:
Certain information required to be furnished pursuant to Part III of this Form 10-K is set forth in, and is hereby incorporated by reference herein from, the definitive proxy statement for our 2021 Annual General Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed by Ramaco Resources with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days after December 31, 2020 (the "2021 Proxy Statement”).
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
The information in this report includes "forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act”). All statements, other than statements of historical fact included in this report, regarding our strategy, future operations, financial position, estimated revenue and losses, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management are forward-looking statements. When used in this annual report, the words "could,” "believe,” "anticipate,” "intend,” "estimate,” "expect,” "project” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain such identifying words. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions about future events and are based on currently available information as to the outcome and timing of future events. When considering forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the risk factors and other cautionary statements described under the heading "Risk Factors” included in this report.
Forward-looking statements may include statements about:
|●||risks related to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, such as the scope and duration of the outbreak, the health and safety of our employees, government actions and restrictive measures implemented in response, delays and cancellations of customer sales, supply chain disruptions and other impacts to the business, or our ability to execute our business continuity plans;|
|●||anticipated production levels, costs, sales volumes and revenue;|
|●||timing and ability to complete major capital projects;|
|●||economic conditions in the metallurgical coal and steel industries generally, including any near-term or long-term downturn in these industries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related actions;|
|●||expected costs to develop planned and future mining operations, including the costs to construct necessary processing and transport facilities;|
|●||estimated quantities or quality of our metallurgical coal reserves;|
|●||our ability to obtain additional financing on favorable terms, if required, to complete the acquisition of additional metallurgical coal reserves as currently contemplated or to fund the operations and growth of our business;|
|●||maintenance, operating or other expenses or changes in the timing thereof;|
|●||financial condition and liquidity of our customers;|
|●||competition in coal markets;|
|●||the price of metallurgical coal and/or thermal coal;|
|●||compliance with stringent domestic and foreign laws and regulations, including environmental, climate change and health and safety regulations, and permitting requirements, as well as changes in the regulatory environment, including as a result of the change in the presidential administration and composition of the U.S. Congress, the adoption of new or revised laws, regulations and permitting requirements;|
|●||potential legal proceedings and regulatory inquiries against us;|
|●||the impact of weather and natural disasters on demand, production and transportation;|
|●||purchases by major customers and our ability to renew sales contracts;|
|●||credit and performance risks associated with customers, suppliers, contract miners, co-shippers and trading, banks and other financial counterparties;|
|●||geologic, equipment, permitting, site access and operational risks and new technologies related to mining;|
|●||transportation availability, performance and costs;|
|●||availability, timing of delivery and costs of key supplies, capital equipment or commodities such as diesel fuel, steel, explosives and tires;|
|●||timely review and approval of permits, permit renewals, extensions and amendments by regulatory authorities;|
|●||our ability to comply with certain debt covenants;|
|●||our expectations relating to dividend payments and our ability to make such payments; and|
|●||other risks identified in this Annual Report that are not historical.|
We caution you that these forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control, incident to the development, production, gathering and sale of coal. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment and new risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. Although we believe that our plans, intentions and expectations reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements we make in this Annual Report are reasonable, we can give no assurance that these plans, intentions or expectations will be achieved or occur, and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results.
All forward-looking statements, expressed or implied, included in this report are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. This cautionary statement should also be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that we or persons acting on our behalf may issue.
Except as otherwise required by applicable law, we disclaim any duty to update any forward-looking statements, all of which are expressly qualified by the statements in this section, to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this report.
Ramaco Resources, Inc. is a Delaware corporation formed in October 2016. Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "METC”. Our principal corporate offices are located in Lexington, Kentucky. As used herein, "Ramaco Resources,” "we,” "our,” and similar terms include Ramaco Resources, Inc. and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.
We are an operator and developer of high-quality, low-cost metallurgical coal in southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and southwestern Pennsylvania. We are a pure play metallurgical coal company with 262 million tons of high-quality metallurgical coal reserves. We believe our advantaged reserve geology provides us with higher productivities and industry leading lower cash costs. Our development portfolio primarily includes four properties: Elk Creek, Berwind, RAM Mine and Knox Creek.
We believe each of these properties possesses geologic and logistical advantages that make our coal among the lowest delivered-cost U.S. metallurgical coal to a majority of our domestic target customer base, North American blast furnace steel mills and coke plants, as well as international metallurgical coal consumers.
We operate three deep mines and a surface mine at our Elk Creek mining complex. Development of this complex commenced in 2016 and included construction of a preparation plant and rail load-out facilities. The Elk Creek property consists of approximately 20,166 acres of controlled mineral rights and contains 25 seams that we have targeted for production.
Development of our Berwind mining complex began in late 2017. In 2020, we suspended development at the Berwind mining complex due to lower pricing and demand largely caused by the novel coronavirus disease 2019 ("COVID-19”) outbreak. This complex remains a key part of our anticipated future growth. We expect to achieve commercial production at the Berwind mining complex approximately six months after we resume the slope project as described under "Our Projects – Berwind” below. The Berwind property consists of approximately 31,200 acres of controlled mineral rights.
Our Knox Creek facility includes a preparation plant and 62,100 acres of controlled mineral rights that we expect to develop in the future. The Knox Creek preparation plant processes coal from our Berwind mine as well as coal we may purchase from third parties.
Our RAM Mine property is located in southwestern Pennsylvania, consists of approximately 1,570 acres of controlled mineral rights, and is scheduled for initial production after a mining permit is issued. We expect this permit to be issued in 2021.
As of December 31, 2020, our estimated aggregate annual production capacity is approximately 2.3 million clean tons of coal. We plan to complete development of our existing properties and increase production from our existing development portfolio to more than 4-4.5 million clean tons of metallurgical coal annually, subject to market conditions, permitting and additional capital deployment. We may also acquire additional reserves or infrastructure that contribute to our focus on advantaged geology and lower costs.
Metallurgical Coal Industry
Metallurgical coal is also known as "coking coal,” and is a key component of the blast furnace steelmaking process. North American metallurgical mines are primarily located in the Appalachian area of the eastern United States, and supply all of the requirements of the steel industry. Imported metallurgical coal has historically been un-economic due to transportation costs. Supply in excess of what can be consumed in North America is exported to the seaborne market to buyers in Europe, South America, Africa, India and Asia.
Metallurgical coal is transported by truck, rail and barge to coke batteries. Metallurgical coal contracts in North America frequently are calendar year contracts where both prices and volumes are fixed in the third or fourth quarter for the following calendar year.
The United States is the second largest global supplier to the seaborne metallurgical coal market behind Australia. U.S. producers, with their variable production volumes, generally serve as a swing supplier to the international metallurgical coal market. U.S. metallurgical coal exports compete with Australian metallurgical coals that are generally produced at lower cost, but are geographically disadvantaged to supply Western Europe. Conversely, Australian production has a much shorter logistical route to East Asian customers. Any supply shortfall out of Australia, or increase in global demand beyond Australia’s capacity, has historically been serviced by U.S. coal producers.
Export metallurgical coal pricing is determined utilizing a series of indices from a number of independent sources and is adjusted for coal quality. Contracted volumes have terms that vary in duration from spot to one year, rarely exceeding one year. In some cases, indices are used at the point that the coal changes hands. In other cases, an average over time may be utilized. When the term "benchmark” is still utilized, it too is determined based on index values, typically for the preceding three months.
Metallurgical coals are generally classified as high, medium or low volatile. Volatiles are products, other than water, that are released as gas or vapor when coal is converted to coke. Carbon is what remains when the volatiles are released.
Our business strategy is to increase stockholder value through sustained earnings growth and cash flow generation by:
Developing and Operating Our Metallurgical Coal Properties. We have a 262 million ton reserve base of high-quality metallurgical coal with attractive quality characteristics across high-volatility and low-volatility segments. This geologically advantaged reserve base allows for flexible capital spending in challenging market conditions.
We plan to complete development of our existing properties and increase production from our existing development portfolio to more than 4-4.5 million clean tons of metallurgical coal, subject to market conditions,
permitting and additional capital deployment. We may also acquire additional reserves or infrastructure that contribute to our focus on advantaged geology and lower costs.
Being a Low-Cost U.S. Producer of Metallurgical Coal. Our reserve base presents advantaged geologic characteristics such as relatively thick coal seams at the deep mines, a low effective mining ratio at the surface mines, and desirable metallurgical coal quality. These characteristics contribute to a production profile that has a cash cost of production that is significantly below most U.S. metallurgical coal producers.
Maintaining a conservative capital structure and prudently managing the business for the long term. We are committed to maintaining a conservative capital structure with a reasonable amount of debt that will afford us the financial flexibility to execute our business strategies on an ongoing basis.
Enhancing Coal Purchase Opportunities. Depending on market conditions, we purchase coal from other independent producers. Purchased coal is complementary from a blending standpoint with our produced coals or it may also be sold as an independent product.
Demonstrating Excellence in Safety and Environmental Stewardship. We are committed to complying with both regulatory and our own high standards for environmental and employee health and safety requirements. We believe that business excellence is achieved through the pursuit of safer and more productive work practices.
Our properties are primarily located in southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and southwestern Pennsylvania. The following map shows the location of our mining complexes and projects:
Elk Creek Mining Complex
Our Elk Creek mining complex in southern West Virginia began production in late December 2016. The Elk Creek property consists of approximately 20,166 acres of controlled mineral and contains 25 seams that we believe are economically mineable. Nearly all our seams contain high-quality, high volatile metallurgical coal accessible at or above drainage. Additionally, almost all of this coal is high-fluidity, which is an important factor for high volatile metallurgical coal.
We control the majority of the coal and related mining rights within the existing permitted areas and our current mine plans, as well as the surface for our surface facilities, through leases and subleases from Ramaco Coal, LLC, a related party, and McDonald Land Company. We estimate that the Elk Creek mining complex contains reserves capable of yielding approximately 113 million tons of clean saleable metallurgical coal.
We currently market most of the coal produced from the Elk Creek mining complex as a blended high volatile A/B product. When segregated, a portion of our coal can be sold as a high volatile A product for a premium. Our market for Elk Creek production is principally North American coke and steel producers. We also market our coal to European, South American, Asian and African customers, and occasionally to coal traders and brokers for use in filling orders for their blended products. Additionally, we seek to market a portion of our coal in the specialty coal markets that value low ash content.
We process our Elk Creek coal production through a 700 raw ton-per-hour preparation plant. The plant has a large-diameter (48”) heavy-media cyclone, dual-stage spiral concentrators, froth flotation, horizontal vibratory and screen bowl centrifuges. Our rail load-out facilities at Elk Creek are capable of loading 4,000 tons per hour and a full 150-car unit train in under four hours. The load-out facility is served by the CSX railroad. We also have the ability to develop on controlled property a rail-loading facility on the Norfolk Southern railroad, which would facilitate dual rail service. We have not yet committed the capital for development of a Norfolk Southern rail facility.
The existing impoundment at Elk Creek has been converted principally into a combined refuse facility. The combined capacity is expected to provide approximately 20 years of disposal life for our operations. We completed construction of a full complement of plate presses during 2020 to allow for dewatering material currently being pumped to our impoundment. This equipment allows us to process all waste material for placement in the combined refuse facility.
On November 5, 2018, one of our three raw coal storage silos that fed our Elk Creek plant experienced a partial structural failure. A temporary conveying system completed in late-November 2018 restored approximately 80% of our plant capacity. We completed a permanent belt workaround and restored the preparation plant to its full processing capacity in mid-2019. Our insurance carrier, Federal Insurance Company, disputed our claim for coverage based on certain exclusions to the applicable policy and, therefore, on August 21, 2019 we filed suit against Federal Insurance Company and Chubb INA Holdings, Inc. in Logan County Circuit Court in West Virginia seeking a declaratory judgment that the partial silo collapse was an insurable event and to require coverage under our policy. Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, and upon removal, we substituted ACE American Insurance Company as a defendant in place of Chubb INA Holdings, Inc. Currently, the case is scheduled for trial beginning June 29, 2021, in Charleston, West Virginia.
A large portion of our controlled reserves are permitted through existing, issued permits. We currently have three mining permits that have not been activated and we are actively pursuing multiple new permits.
On January 3, 2020, we entered into a mineral lease with the McDonald Land Company for coal reserves which, in many cases, are located immediately adjacent to our Elk Creek complex. This leased property became available after the former base lease with another party was terminated. The prior lessee, who controlled the property since 1978, did not produce commercial amounts of coal from the property during their possession of the lease. While it is unusual to have a metallurgical reserve in this part of Central Appalachia remain idle for such an extended period of time, the configuration and location of the tracts lend themselves to be mined and processed far more efficiently from our Elk Creek property. The McDonald reserves are expected to have the same geologic advantages and low costs that are being experienced in our Elk Creek mines. Our 2020 reserve study of the McDonald tracts showed over 21 million proven and probable reserves in approximately 20 different coal seams to our Elk Creek reserve base. We project to mine approximately 10 million tons of these reserves in our current 10 year mine plan.
Berwind Mining Complex
Our Berwind mining complex is located on the border of West Virginia and Virginia and is well-positioned to fill the anticipated market for low volatile coals. The Berwind property consists of approximately 31,200 acres of controlled mineral and contains a large area of Squire Jim seam coal deposits. The Squire Jim seam of coal is the lowest known coal seam on the geologic column in this region, and due to depth of cover has never been significantly explored. We have outcrop access to this seam at the top of an anticline. Should we choose to develop this seam in the future, we expect to experience above average seam height.
Development of our Berwind mining complex began in late 2017 in the thinner Pocahontas No. 3 seam with plans to slope up into the thicker Pocahontas No. 4 seam, subject to market conditions. In 2020, we suspended development at the Berwind mining complex due to lower pricing and demand largely caused by the economic effects of COVID-19. This complex remains a key part of our anticipated future growth. We expect to achieve commercial production at the Berwind mining complex approximately six months after we resume the slope project. We estimate that the mine life for the Berwind mining complex is more than 20 years.
In February 2021, the resumption of the slope development project at Berwind was approved by our Board of Directors in anticipation of better market conditions. We view Berwind as the second flagship complex for Ramaco. The slope project will allow us to transition our mining efforts at Berwind to the thicker Pocahontas No. 4 seam. We have already expended more than $50 million in growth capital during the past four years in development at the Berwind mining complex. We anticipate spending another $10-12 million in growth capital over the next 12 months with approximately one-third of that outlay occurring in early 2022. At full production at Berwind, we expect to produce approximately 750,000 tons per year of high quality low-volatile coal with total cash costs per ton in the low- to mid-$70’s for company produced coal. We expect to have initial production by late 2021, and to ramp up to full production levels by the second quarter of 2022.
We are currently mining a small amount of coal from the Triad mine at Berwind. The mine is anticipated to produce less than 250,000 tons in 2021, and should function as a bridge until the main Berwind Pocahontas #4 reserve is fully activated.
We have the necessary permits for the Berwind mine for our current and budgeted operations. A permit for our Squire Jim seam room-and-pillar underground mine was issued during 2020. At this point, we do not anticipate activating this mining permit.
The Knox Creek property consists of approximately 62,100 acres of controlled mineral, a 650 tons per hour preparation plant and coal-loading facility along with a refuse impoundment. Rail service is provided by Norfolk Southern.
The Tiller Mine slope face-up and shafts were idled before our acquisition of the property. We have spent limited amounts of capital to review the feasibility of a high volatile A metallurgical deep mine in the Jawbone seam of coal. This seam is located slightly above the Tiller Seam and would be accessed via a short slope. Jawbone coal could flow through the same portal and slope as the idle Tiller mine.
From time to time, we process coal purchased from other independent producers at the Knox Creek preparation plant and load-out facilities. We also process and load coal trucked from our Berwind mine at this facility.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, we acquired multiple permits from various affiliates of Omega Highwall Mining, LLC. Consideration for the transaction included assumption of approximately $0.6 million of ARO liability, curing minor lease defaults, and paying advance royalties under two assumed lease instruments. The total out-of-pocket consideration was less than $0.1 million, most of which is recoupable against future royalty payments. These permits are in close proximity to our Knox Creek preparation plant and loadout infrastructure, and provide immediate access to two separate mining areas in Southwestern Virginia. One is a deep mine permit in the Jawbone Seam, which contains approximately 2.65 million tons of geologically advantaged metallurgical coal. The second is a metallurgical surface mine in the Tiller and Red Ash seams that is spade ready for production. It contains approximately 800,000 tons of coal that can be mined via the surface and highwall mining methods. The surface mining is expected to have very low mining ratios. The combination of close proximity to Knox Creek and advantaged geology make these two mines likely to become active in the next few years. The fully permitted surface mine is one of the areas, subject to market conditions, that could positively impact near-term production and profitability. It is possible that the surface mine will be operated utilizing third party contractors we would manage.
In February 2021, a new mine development project known as the Big Creek mine and located near our Knox Creek preparation plant was approved by our Board of Directors. We anticipate to begin production at the Big Creek mine within approximately four to six months of breaking ground. We have obtained all required permits to begin development of the Big Creek mine. We anticipate full production of around 150,000-200,000 tons a year of primarily high quality, mid-volatile coal by the fourth quarter of 2021, with cash costs per ton in the upper $50’s for company produced coal. We expect growth capital spending in the development of the Big Creek mine to be roughly $5-7 million over the next two quarters. We expect this mine to be able to produce at these levels for more than three years.
Our RAM Mine property is located in southwestern Pennsylvania, consists of approximately 1,570 acres of controlled mineral and is scheduled for initial production after a mining permit is issued. Production of high volatile coal from the Pittsburgh seam is planned from a single continuous-miner room-and-pillar underground operation. The Pittsburgh seam, in close proximity to Pittsburgh area coke plants, has historically been a key feedstock for these coke plants. Operation of our RAM Mine coal reserve may require access to a newly constructed preparation plant and loading facility, third party processing, or direct shipment of raw coal product. Upon commencement of mining, we anticipate that the mine will produce at an annualized rate of between 300 and 500 thousand tons with an estimated 10-year mining life.
We expect that coal from the RAM Mine coal reserve will be transported to our customers by highway trucks, rail cars or by barge on river systems. In addition to close proximity to river barge facilities, our RAM Mine operations are also near Norfolk Southern rail access.
The RAM Mine coal reserve is not yet permitted, although we have applied for a permit and it is in the final phase of the permit application process. We expect this permit to be issued in 2021.
Customers and Contracts
Coal prices differ substantially by region and are impacted by many factors including the overall economy, demand for steel, demand for electricity, location, market, quality and type of coal, mine operation costs and the cost of customer alternatives. The major factors influencing our business are the global economy and demand for steel.
We market the bulk of our production to North American integrated steel mills and coke plants, in addition to international customers primarily in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. Additionally, we market limited amounts of our production to various premium-priced specialty markets, such as foundry cokemakers, manufacturers of activated carbon products, and specialty metals producers.
We sold 1.75 million tons of coal during 2020. Of this, 71% was sold to North American markets and 29% was sold into export markets, excluding Canada. Principally, our export market sales were made to Europe. During 2020, sales to three customers accounted for approximately 70% of total revenue. The total balance due from these three customers at December 31, 2020 was approximately 46% of total accounts receivable. During 2019, sales to three customers accounted for approximately 53% of total revenue. The total balance due from these two customers at December 31, 2019 was approximately 58% of total accounts receivable. No other customer accounted for more than 10% of our revenue during this period. If a major customer decided to stop purchasing coal or significantly reduced its purchases from us, revenue could decline and our operating results and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Trade Names, Trademarks and Patents
We do not have any registered trademarks or trade names for our products, services or subsidiaries, and we do not believe that any trademark or trade name is material to our business. The names of the seams in which we have coal reserves, and attributes thereof, are widely recognized in the metallurgical coal market.
Our principal domestic competitors include Blackhawk Mining, LLC, Coronado Global Resources, Inc., Corsa Coal Corp, Arch Resources, Inc., Alpha Metallurgical Resources, Inc., Energy, Inc. and Warrior Met Coal, Inc. We also compete in international markets directly with domestic companies and with companies that produce coal from one or more foreign countries, such as Australia, Canada, Colombia and South Africa. Many of these coal producers are larger than we are and have greater financial resources and larger reserve bases than we do.
Supplies used in our business include petroleum-based fuels, explosives, tires, conveyance structure, ventilation supplies, lubricants and other raw materials as well as spare parts and other consumables used in the mining process. We use third-party suppliers for a significant portion of our equipment rebuilds and repairs, drilling services and construction. We believe adequate substitute suppliers and contractors are available and we are not dependent on any one supplier or contractor. We continually seek to develop relationships with suppliers and contractors that focus on reducing our costs while improving quality and service.
Environmental, Health and Safety and Other Regulatory Matters
Our operations are subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations, such as those relating to matters such as permitting and licensing, employee health and safety, reclamation and restoration of mining properties, water discharges, air emissions, plant and wildlife protection, the storage, treatment and disposal of wastes, remediation of contaminants, surface subsidence from underground mining and the effects of mining on surface water and groundwater conditions.
Compliance with these laws and regulations may be costly and time-consuming and may delay commencement, continuation or expansion of exploration or production at our facilities. They may also depress demand for our products by imposing more stringent requirements and limits on our customers’ operations. Moreover, these laws are constantly evolving and are becoming increasingly complex and stringent over time. These laws and regulations, particularly new legislative or administrative proposals, or judicial interpretations of existing laws and regulations related to the protection of the environment could result in substantially increased capital, operating and compliance costs.
Due in part to these extensive and comprehensive regulatory requirements and ever-changing interpretations of these requirements, violations of these laws can occur from time to time in our industry and also in our operations. Expenditures relating to environmental compliance are a major cost consideration for our operations and safety and compliance is a significant factor in mine design, both to meet regulatory requirements and to minimize long-term environmental liabilities.
The following is a summary of the various federal and state environmental and similar regulations that have a material impact on our business:
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 ("SMCRA”) establishes operational, reclamation and closure standards for our mining operations and requires that comprehensive environmental protection and reclamation standards be met during the course of and following completion of mining activities. SMCRA also stipulates compliance with many other major environmental statutes, including the CAA, the CWA, the ESA, RCRA and CERCLA. Permits for all mining operations must be obtained from the United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement ("OSMRE”) or, where state regulatory agencies have adopted federally approved state programs under SMCRA, the appropriate state regulatory authority. Our operations are located in states which have achieved primary jurisdiction for enforcement of SMCRA through approved state programs.
SMCRA imposes a complex set of requirements covering all facets of coal mining. SMCRA regulations govern, among other things, coal prospecting, mine plan development, topsoil or growth medium removal and replacement, disposal of excess spoil and coal refuse, protection of the hydrologic balance, and suitable post mining land uses.
From time to time, OSMRE will also update its mining regulations under SMCRA. For example, OSMRE has previously sought to impose stricter stream protection requirements by requiring more extension pre-mining and baseline data for coal mining operations. The rule was disapproved by Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act ("CRA”). However, whether Congress will enact future legislation to require a new Stream Protection Rule remains uncertain. The existing rules, or other new SMCRA regulations, could result in additional material costs, obligations and restrictions upon our operations.
Abandoned Mine Lands Fund. SMCRA also imposes a reclamation fee on all current mining operations, the proceeds of which are deposited in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund ("AML Fund”), which is used to restore unreclaimed and abandoned mine lands mined before 1977. The current per ton fee is $0.28 per ton for surface-mined coal and $0.12 per ton for underground-mined coal. These fees are currently scheduled to be in effect until September 30, 2021. Estimates of our total reclamation and mine-closing liabilities are based upon permit requirements and our experience related to similar activities. If these accruals are insufficient or our liability in a particular year is greater than currently anticipated, our future operating results could be adversely affected.
Mining Permits and Approvals. Numerous governmental permits and approvals are required for mining operations. We are required to prepare and present to federal, state, and local authorities data detailing the effect or impact that any proposed exploration project for production of coal may have upon the environment, the public and our employees. The permitting rules, and the interpretations of these rules, are complex, change frequently, and may be subject to discretionary interpretations by regulators. The requirements imposed by these permits and associated regulations can be costly and time-consuming and may delay commencement or continuation of exploration, production or expansion at our operations. The governing laws, rules, and regulations authorize substantial fines and penalties, including revocation or suspension of mining permits under some circumstances. Monetary sanctions and, in certain circumstances, even criminal sanctions may be imposed for failure to comply with these laws.
Applications for permits and permit renewals at our mining operations are also subject to public comment and potential legal challenges from third parties seeking to prevent a permit from being issued, or to overturn the applicable agency’s grant of the permit. Should our permitting efforts become subject to such challenges, the permits may not be issued in a timely fashion, may involve requirements which restrict our ability to conduct our mining operations or to do so profitably, or may not be issued at all. Any delays, denials, or revocation of these or other similar permits we need to operate could reduce our production and materially adversely impact our cash flow and results of our operations.
In order to obtain mining permits and approvals from state regulatory authorities, mine operators must also submit a reclamation plan for restoring the mined property to its prior condition, productive use or other permitted condition. The conditions of certain permits also require that we obtain surface owner consent if the surface estate has been split from the mineral estate. This requires us to negotiate with third parties for surface access that overlies coal we acquired or intend to acquire. These negotiations can be costly and time-consuming, lasting years in some instances, which can create additional delays in the permitting process. If we cannot successfully negotiate for land access, we could be denied a permit to mine coal we already own.
Finally, we typically submit necessary mining permit applications several months, or even years, before we anticipate mining a new area. However, we cannot control the pace at which the government issues permits needed for new or ongoing operations. For example, the process of obtaining CWA permits can be particularly time-consuming and subject to delays and denials. The EPA also has the authority to veto permits issued by the Corps under the CWA’s Section 404 program that prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into regulated waters without a permit. Even after we obtain the permits that we need to operate, many of the permits must be periodically renewed, or may require modification. There is some risk that not all existing permits will be approved for renewal, or that existing permits will be approved for renewal only upon terms that restrict or limit our operations in ways that may be material.
Financial Assurance. Federal and state laws require a mine operator to secure the performance of its reclamation and lease obligations under SMCRA through the use of surety bonds or other approved forms of financial security for payment of certain long-term obligations, including mine closure or reclamation costs. The changes in the market for coal used to generate electricity in recent years have led to bankruptcies involving prominent coal producers. Several of these companies relied on self-bonding to guarantee their responsibilities under the SMCRA permits including for reclamation. In response to these bankruptcies, OSMRE issued a Policy Advisory in August 2016 to state agencies that was intended to discourage authorized states from approving self-bonding arrangements. Although the Policy Advisory was rescinded in October 2017, certain states, including Virginia, had previously announced that they would no longer accept self-bonding to secure reclamation obligations under the state mining laws. Additionally, in March 2018, the Government Accounting Office recommended that Congress consider amending SMCRA to eliminate the availability of self-bonding to guarantee responsibilities under SMCRA permits. Individually and collectively, these and future revised various financial assurance requirements may increase the amount of financial assurance needed and
limit the types of acceptable instruments, straining the capacity of the surety markets to meet demand. This may delay the timing for and increase the costs of obtaining the required financial assurance.
We use surety bonds, trusts and letters of credit to provide financial assurance for certain transactions and business activities. Federal and state laws require us to obtain surety bonds to secure payment of certain long-term obligations including mine closure or reclamation costs and other miscellaneous obligations. The bonds are renewable on a yearly basis. Surety bond rates have increased in recent years and the market terms of such bonds have generally become less favorable. Sureties typically require coal producers to post collateral, often having a value equal to 40% or more of the face amount of the bond. As a result, we may be required to provide collateral, letters of credit or other assurances of payment in order to obtain the necessary types and amounts of financial assurance. Under our surety bonding program, we are not currently required to post any letters of credit or other collateral to secure the surety bonds; obtaining letters of credit in lieu of surety bonds could result in a significant cost increase. Moreover, the need to obtain letters of credit may also reduce amounts that we can borrow under any senior secured credit facility for other purposes. If, in the future, we are unable to secure surety bonds for these obligations and are forced to secure letters of credit indefinitely or obtain some other form of financial assurance at too high of a cost, our profitability may be negatively affected.
We intend to maintain a credit profile that precludes the need to post collateral for our surety bonds. Nonetheless, our surety has the right to demand additional collateral at its discretion.
Some international customers require new suppliers to post performance guarantees during the initial stages of qualifying to become a long-term supplier. To date we have not had to provide a performance guarantee, but it is possible that such a guarantee could be required in the future.
Mine Safety and Health. The Mine Act and the MINER Act, and regulations issued under these federal statutes, impose stringent health and safety standards on mining operations. The regulations that have been adopted under the Mine Act and the MINER Act are comprehensive and affect numerous aspects of mining operations, including training of mine personnel, mining procedures, roof control, ventilation, blasting, use and maintenance of mining equipment, dust and noise control, communications, emergency response procedures, and other matters. MSHA regularly inspects mines to ensure compliance with regulations promulgated under the Mine Act and MINER Act.
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia all have similar programs for mine safety and health regulation and enforcement. The various requirements mandated by federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations place restrictions on our methods of operation and result in fees and civil penalties for violations of such requirements or criminal liability for the knowing violation of such standards, significantly impacting operating costs and productivity.
The regulations enacted under the Mine Act and MINER Act as well as under similar state acts are routinely expanded or made more stringent, raising compliance costs and increasing potential liability. For example, MSHA published a request for information in August 2019 related to its consideration of a lower exposure limit for silica in respirable dust. Our compliance with current or future mine health and safety regulations could increase our mining costs. At this time, it is not possible to predict the full effect that new or proposed statutes, regulations and policies will have on our operating costs, but any expansion of existing regulations, or making such regulations more stringent may have a negative impact on the profitability of our operations. If we were to be found in violation of mine safety and health regulations, we could face penalties or restrictions that may materially and adversely impact our operations, financial results and liquidity.
In addition, government inspectors have the authority to issue orders to shut down our operations based on safety considerations under certain circumstances, such as imminent dangers, accidents, failures to abate violations, and unwarrantable failures to comply with mandatory safety standards. If an incident were to occur at one of our operations, it could be shut down for an extended period of time, and our reputation with prospective customers could be materially damaged. Moreover, if one of our operations is issued a notice of pattern of violations, then MSHA can issue an order withdrawing the miners from the area affected by any enforcement action during each subsequent significant and substantial ("S&S”) citation until the S&S citation or order is abated.
Workers’ Compensation and Black Lung. We are insured for workers’ compensation benefits for work related injuries that occur within our United States operations. We retain first-dollar coverage for all of our subsidiaries and are insured for the statutory limits. Workers’ compensation liabilities, including those related to claims incurred but not reported, are recorded principally using annual valuations based on discounted future expected payments using historical data of the operating subsidiary or combined insurance industry data when historical data is limited. State workers’ compensation acts typically provide for an exception to an employer’s immunity from civil lawsuits for workplace injuries in the case of intentional torts. However, West Virginia’s workers’ compensation act provides a much broader exception to workers’ compensation immunity. The exception allows an injured employee to recover against his or her employer where he or she can show damages caused by an unsafe working condition of which the employer was aware that was a violation of a statute, regulation, rule or consensus industry standard. These types of lawsuits are not uncommon and could have a significant impact on our operating costs.
In addition, we obtained from a third-party insurer a workers’ compensation insurance policy, which includes coverage for medical and disability benefits for black lung disease under the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Mine Act, as amended. Under the Black Lung Benefits Revenue Act of 1977 and the Black Lung Benefits Reform Act of 1977, as amended in 1981, each coal mine operator must pay federal black lung benefits to claimants who are current and former employees and also make payments to a trust fund for the payment of benefits and medical expenses to claimants who last worked in the coal industry prior to January 1, 1970.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes significant changes to the federal black lung program including an automatic survivor benefit paid upon the death of a miner with an awarded black lung claim and the establishment of a rebuttable presumption with regard to pneumoconiosis among miners with 15 or more years of coal mine employment that are totally disabled by a respiratory condition. These changes could have a material impact on our costs expended in association with the federal black lung program. In addition to possibly incurring liability under federal statutes, we may also be liable under state laws for black lung claims.
Clean Air Act. The CAA and comparable state laws that regulate air emissions affect coal mining operations both directly and indirectly. Direct impacts on coal mining and processing operations include CAA permitting requirements and emission control requirements relating to air pollutants, including particulate matter such as fugitive dust. The CAA indirectly affects coal mining operations by extensively regulating the emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and other compounds emitted by coal-fired power plants. In addition to the greenhouse gas ("GHG”) issues discussed below, the air emissions programs that may materially and adversely affect our operations, financial results, liquidity, and demand for our coal, directly or indirectly, include, but are not limited to, the following:
|●||Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. In June 2011, the EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule ("CSAPR”), a cap-and-trade program that requires 28 states in the Midwest and eastern seaboard of the U.S. to reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states. In May 2017, EPA further limited summertime (May-September) nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 22 states in the eastern United States in the CSAPR Update Rule. For states to meet these requirements, a number of coal-fired electric generating units will likely need to be retired, rather than retrofitted with the necessary emission control technologies, reducing demand for thermal coal. Moreover, in September 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ("D.C. Circuit”) remanded the CSAPR Update Rule to EPA on the grounds that it failed to timely require upwind states to control or eliminate their contribution to ozone and/or fine particulate matter in downwind states, as required under the federal Clean Air Act. In October 2020, EPA proposed a Revised CSAPR Update Rule in response to the D.C. Circuit’s ruling. The proposed rule addresses 21 states’ outstanding interstate pollution transport obligations and would require additional emissions reductions of nitrogen oxides from power plants in 12 states. Imposition of stricter deadlines for controlling downwind contribution could accelerate unit retirements or the need to implement emission control strategies. Any reduction in the amount of coal consumed by electric power generators as a result of these limitations could decrease demand for thermal coal. However, the practical impact of CSAPR may be limited because utilities in the U.S. have continued to take steps to comply with CAIR, which requires similar power plant|
|emissions reductions, and because utilities are preparing to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ("MATS”) regulations, which require overlapping power plant emissions reductions.|
|●||Acid Rain. Title IV of the CAA requires reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions by electric utilities and applies to all coal-fired power plants generating greater than 25 Megawatts of power. Affected power plants have sought to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by switching to lower sulfur fuels, installing pollution control devices, reducing electricity generating levels or purchasing or trading sulfur dioxide emission allowances. These reductions could impact our customers in the electric generation industry. These requirements are not supplanted by CSAPR.|
|●||NAAQS for Criterion Pollutants. The CAA requires the EPA to set standards, referred to as NAAQS, for six common air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, ozone, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. Areas that are not in compliance (referred to as "non-attainment areas”) with these standards must take steps to reduce emissions levels. The EPA has adopted NAAQS for nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and ozone. The CAA further requires EPA to periodically review and revise the NAAQS, resulting in the adoption of increasingly more stringent standards over time. States with areas non-attainment areas must adopt a state implementation plan ("SIP”) that demonstrates compliance with the existing or new air quality standards. These plans could require significant additional emissions control expenditures at coal-fired power plants. The final rules and new standards may also impose additional emissions control requirements on our customers in the electric generation, steelmaking, and coke industries. Because coal mining operations emit particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, our mining operations could be affected when the new standards are implemented by the states.|
|●||Mercury and Hazardous Air Pollutants. The EPA has established emission standards for mercury and other metal, fine particulates, and acid gases from coal- and oil-fired power plants through the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ("MATS”) rule. In May 2020, the EPA published a final rule reversing its prior determination that it is appropriate and necessary to regulate these pollutants. However, this rule will not alter or eliminate the emissions standards established by the MATS rule. Like CSAPR, MATS and other similar future regulations could accelerate the retirement of a significant number of coal-fired power plants. Such retirements would likely adversely impact our business.|
Global Climate Change. Climate change continues to attract considerable public and scientific attention. There is widespread concern about the contributions of human activity to such changes, especially through the emission of GHGs. There are three primary sources of GHGs associated with the coal industry. First, the end use of our coal by our customers in electricity generation, coke plants, and steelmaking is a source of GHGs. Second, combustion of fuel by equipment used in coal production and to transport our coal to our customers is a source of GHGs. Third, coal mining itself can release methane, which is considered to be a more potent GHG than CO2, directly into the atmosphere. These emissions from coal consumption, transportation and production are subject to pending and proposed regulation as part of initiatives to address global climate change.
As a result, numerous proposals have been made and are likely to continue to be made at the international, national, regional and state levels of government to monitor and limit emissions of GHGs. Collectively, these initiatives could result in higher electric costs to our customers or lower the demand for coal used in electric generation, which could in turn adversely impact our business.
At present, we are principally focused on metallurgical coal production, which is not used in connection with the production of power generation. However, we may seek to sell greater amounts of our coal into the power-generation market in the future. The market for our coal may be adversely impacted if comprehensive legislation or regulations focusing on GHG emission reductions are adopted, or if our customers are unable to obtain financing for their operations.
At the international level, President Obama announced in November 2014 that the United States would seek to cut net GHG emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 in return for China’s commitment to seek to peak emissions around 2030, with concurrent increases in renewable energy. In April 2016, the United States further agreed to
voluntarily limit or reduce future emissions as part of the Paris Agreement reached at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. In November 2019, the United States submitted formal notification to the United Nations that it intended to withdraw from the agreement and withdrew from the agreement in November 2020. However, on January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an "Acceptance on Behalf of the United States of America” that will allow the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement. The newly signed acceptance, deposited with the United Nations on January 20, 2021, reverses the prior withdrawal. The United States will officially rejoin the Paris Agreement on February 19, 2021. In addition, shortly after taking office in January 2021, President Biden issued a series of executive orders designed to address climate change. Reentry into the Paris Agreement and President Biden’s executive orders may result in the development of additional regulations or changes to existing regulations.
At the federal level, although no comprehensive climate change legislation has been implemented to date, such legislation has periodically been introduced in the U.S. Congress and may be proposed or adopted in the future. The likelihood of such legislation has increased due to the change in the administration. Furthermore, the EPA has determined that emissions of GHGs present an endangerment to public health and the environment, because emissions of GHGs are, according to the EPA, contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and other climatic changes. Based on these findings, the EPA has begun adopting and implementing regulations to restrict emissions of GHGs under existing provisions of the CAA. For example, in August 2015, EPA finalized the CPP to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. The CPP creates individualized emission guidelines for states to follow, and requires each state to develop an implementation plan to meet the individual state’s specific targets for reducing GHG emissions. In July 2019, the EPA adopted a rule that replaced the CPP with a new rule titled the Affordable Clean Energy ("ACE”) Rule. Although the ACE rule moves away from the individualized emission guidelines of the CPP, it still requires states to set appropriate GHG emission standards for power plants within their jurisdiction based upon the application of "candidate” heat rate improvement measures. The implementation of the ACE rule is currently being challenged in the D.C. Circuit. These and future GHG emission standards may encourage a shift away from coal-fired power generation, adversely impacting the market for our product.
At the state level, several states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia, have already adopted measures requiring GHG emissions to be reduced within state boundaries, including cap-and-trade programs and the imposition of renewable energy portfolio standards. Various states and regions have also adopted GHG initiatives and certain governmental bodies, have imposed, or are considering the imposition of, fees or taxes based on the emission of GHGs by certain facilities. A number of states have also enacted legislative mandates requiring electricity suppliers to use renewable energy sources to generate a certain percentage of power.
The uncertainty over the outcome of litigation challenging the ACE rule and the extent of future regulation of GHG emissions may inhibit utilities from investing in the building of new coal-fired plants to replace older plants or investing in the upgrading of existing coal-fired plants. Any reduction in the amount of coal consumed by electric power generators as a result of actual or potential regulation of GHG emissions could decrease demand for thermal coal, thereby reducing our revenue and adversely affecting our business and results of operations. We or prospective customers may also have to invest in CO2 capture and storage technologies in order to burn coal and comply with future GHG emission standards.
Finally, there have been attempts to encourage the reduction of coalbed methane emissions because methane has a greater GHG effect than CO2 and can give rise to safety concerns. For example, EPA has established the Coalbed Methane Outreach Program ("CMOP”) in an effort to mitigate methane emissions from underground coal mines through voluntary initiatives and outreach. If new laws or regulations were introduced to reduce coalbed methane emissions, those rules could adversely affect our costs of operations by requiring installation of air pollution controls, higher taxes, or costs incurred to purchase credits that permit us to continue operations.
Clean Water Act. The CWA and corresponding state laws and regulations affect coal mining operations by restricting the discharge of pollutants, including dredged or fill materials, into waters of the United States. Likewise, permits are required under the CWA to construct impoundments, fills or other structure in areas that are designated as waters of the United States. The CWA provisions and associated state and federal regulations are complex and subject to amendments, legal challenges and changes in implementation. For example, prior to placing fill material in waters of the United States, such as with the construction of a valley fill, coal mining companies are required to obtain a permit from
the Corps under Section 404 of the CWA. The permit can be either a Nationwide Permit ("NWP”), normally NWP 21, 49 or 50 for coal mining activities, or a more complicated individual permit. NWPs are designed to allow for an expedited permitting process, while individual permits involve a longer and more detailed review process. The EPA has the authority to veto permits issued by the Corps under the CWA’s Section 404 program that prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into regulated waters without a permit. Recent court decisions, regulatory actions and proposed legislation have created uncertainty over CWA jurisdiction and permitting requirements.
Prior to discharging any pollutants into waters of the United States, coal mining companies must obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES”) permit from the appropriate state or federal permitting authority. NPDES permits include effluent limitations for discharged pollutants and other terms and conditions, including required monitoring of discharges. Failure to comply with the CWA or NPDES permits can lead to the imposition of significant penalties, litigation, compliance costs and delays in coal production. Changes and proposed changes in state and federally recommended water quality standards may result in the issuance or modification of permits with new or more stringent effluent limits or terms and conditions.
For instance, waters that states have designated as impaired (i.e., as not meeting present water quality standards) are subject to Total Maximum Daily Load ("TMDL”) regulations, which may lead to the adoption of more stringent discharge standards for our coal mines and could require more costly treatment. Likewise, the water quality of certain receiving streams requires an anti-degradation review before approving any discharge permits. TMDL regulations and anti-degradation policies may increase the cost, time and difficulty associated with obtaining and complying with NPDES permits.
In addition, in certain circumstances private citizens may challenge alleged violations of NPDES permit limits in court. Recently, certain citizen groups have filed lawsuits alleging ongoing discharges of pollutants, including selenium and conductance, from valley fills located at certain mining sites in some of the regions where we operate. In West Virginia, several of these cases have been successful for the challengers. While it is difficult to predict the outcome of any potential or future suits, such litigation could result in increased compliance costs following the completion of mining at our operations.
Finally, in June 2015, the EPA and the Corps published a new definition of "waters of the United States” ("WOTUS”) that would have expanded areas requiring NPDES or Corps Section 404 permits. In October 2019, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a final rule that repealed the 2015 WOTUS definition and reinstated the agencies’ narrower pre-2015 scope of federal CWA jurisdiction. In April 2020, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule amending the definition of "water of the United States” and replacing EPA’s October 2019 final rule. Judicial challenges to EPA’s October 2019 and April 2020 final rules are currently before multiple federal district courts. If the October 2019 final rules are vacated and the expanded scope of jurisdiction in the 2015 rule is ultimately implemented, the CWA permits we need may not be issued, may not be issued in a timely fashion, or may be issued with new requirements which restrict our ability to conduct mining operations or to do so profitably.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. RCRA and corresponding state laws establish standards for the management of solid and hazardous wastes generated at our various facilities. Besides affecting current waste disposal practices, RCRA also addresses the environmental effects of certain past hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal practices. In addition, RCRA requires certain of our facilities to evaluate and respond to any past release, or threatened release, of a hazardous substance that may pose a risk to human health or the environment.
RCRA may affect coal mining operations by establishing requirements for the proper management, handling, transportation and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes. For example, EPA regulates coal ash as a solid waste under Subtitle D of RCRA through its coal combustion residuals ("CCR”) rule. This rule establishes limits for the location of new sites and requires closure of sites that fail to meet prescribed engineering standards, regular inspections of impoundments, and immediate remediation and closure of unlined ponds that are polluting ground water. As initially promulgated, the rule exempted closed coal ash impoundments located at inactive facilities and allowed for the continued operation of unlined or clay-lined ponds that were not polluting groundwater. However, in August 2020, EPA finalized amendments to its CCR rule that would require closure to be initiated at all unlined and clay-lined surface
impoundments by April 11, 2021. Additionally, in December 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which provides for the establishment of state and EPA permit programs for the control of coal combustion residuals and authorizes states to incorporate EPA’s final rule for coal combustion residuals or develop other criteria that are at least as protective as the final rule. These requirements, as well as any future changes in the management of coal combustion residuals, could increase our customers’ operating costs and potentially reduce their ability or need to purchase coal. In addition, contamination caused by the past disposal of coal combustion residuals, including coal ash, could lead to material liability for our customers under RCRA or other federal or state laws and potentially further reduce the demand for coal.
Currently, certain coal mine wastes, such as earth and rock covering a mineral deposit (commonly referred to as overburden) and coal cleaning wastes, are exempted from hazardous waste management under RCRA. Any change or reclassification of this exemption could significantly increase our coal mining costs.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. CERCLA and similar state laws affect coal mining operations by, among other things, imposing cleanup requirements for threatened or actual releases of hazardous substances into the environment. Under CERCLA and similar state laws, joint and several liability may be imposed on hazardous substance generators, site owners, transporters, lessees and others regardless of fault or the legality of the original disposal activity. Although the EPA excludes most wastes generated by coal mining and processing operations from the primary hazardous waste laws, such wastes can, in certain circumstances, constitute hazardous substances for the purposes of CERCLA. In addition, the disposal, release or spilling of some products used by coal companies in operations, such as chemicals, could trigger the liability provisions of CERCLA or similar state laws. Thus, we may be subject to liability under CERCLA and similar state laws for coal mines that we currently own, lease or operate or that we or our predecessors have previously owned, leased or operated, and sites to which we or our predecessors sent hazardous substances. These liabilities could be significant and materially and adversely impact our financial results and liquidity.
Endangered Species and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Acts. The ESA and similar state legislation protect species designated as threatened, endangered or other special status. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the "USFWS”) works closely with the OSMRE and state regulatory agencies to ensure that species subject to the ESA are protected from mining-related impacts. Several species indigenous to the areas in which we operate area protected under the ESA. Other species in the vicinity of our operations may have their listing status reviewed in the future and could also become protected under the ESA. In addition, the USFWS has identified bald eagle habitat in some of the counties where we operate. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits taking certain actions that would harm bald or golden eagles without obtaining a permit from the USFWS. Compliance with the requirements of the ESA and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act could have the effect of prohibiting or delaying us from obtaining mining permits. These requirements may also include restrictions on timber harvesting, road building and other mining or agricultural activities in areas containing the affected species or their habitats.
Use of Explosives. Our surface mining operations are subject to numerous regulations relating to blasting activities. Due to these regulations, we will incur costs to design and implement blast schedules and to conduct pre-blast surveys and blast monitoring. In addition, the storage of explosives is subject to various regulatory requirements. For example, the Department of Homeland Security requires facilities in possession of chemicals of interest (including ammonium nitrate at certain threshold levels) to complete a screening review. Our mines are low risk, Tier 4 facilities which are not subject to additional security plans. The adoption of future, more stringent standards related to the use of explosives could materially adversely impact our cost or ability to conduct our mining operations.
National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA requires federal agencies, including the Department of Interior, to evaluate major agency actions that have the potential to significantly impact the environment, such as issuing a permit or other approval. In the course of such evaluations, an agency will typically prepare an environmental assessment to determine the potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of a proposed project. Where the activities in question have significant impacts to the environment, the agency must prepare an environmental impact statement. Compliance with NEPA can be time-consuming and may result in the imposition of mitigation measures that could affect the amount of coal that we are able to produce from mines on federal lands, and may require public comment. Furthermore, whether agencies have complied with NEPA is subject to protest, appeal or litigation, which can delay or halt projects. The
NEPA review process, including potential disputes regarding the level of evaluation required for climate change impacts, may extend the time and/or increase the costs and difficulty of obtaining necessary governmental approvals, and may lead to litigation regarding the adequacy of the NEPA analysis, which could delay or potentially preclude the issuance of approvals or grant of leases.
In the past, the Council on Environmental Quality ("CEQ”) has issued guidance encouraging agencies to provide more detailed discussion of the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of a proposed action’s reasonably foreseeable GHG emissions and effects. Although this guidance has since been withdrawn, the adoption of a similar guidance in the future could create additional delays and costs in the NEPA review process or in our operations, or even an inability to obtain necessary federal approvals for our operations due to the increased risk of legal challenges from environmental groups seeking additional analysis of climate impacts.
Other Environmental Laws. We are required to comply with numerous other federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations in addition to those previously discussed. These additional laws include but are not limited to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Each of these laws can impact permitting or planned operations and can result in additional costs or operational delays.
Our primary business is not materially impacted by seasonal fluctuations. Demand for metallurgical coal is generally more heavily influenced by other factors such as the general economy, interest rates and commodity prices.
Human Capital Resources
We believe our employees are a competitive advantage. We seek to foster a culture that supports diversity and inclusion, and strive to provide a safe, healthy and rewarding work environment with opportunities for growth. We had 349 employees as of December 31, 2020, including our named executive officers. None of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, and we have not experienced any strikes or work stoppages related to labor relation issues. We believe we have good relations with our employees. Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, training, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and additional employees. We also depend on experienced contractors and third-party consultants to conduct some of our day-to-day activities. We plan to continue to use the services of many of these contractors and consultants.
Safety Philosophy. We have a comprehensive health and safety program based on the core belief that all accidents and occupational illnesses are preventable. We believe that:
|●||Business excellence is achieved through the pursuit of safer and more productive work practices.|
|●||Any task that cannot be performed safely should not be performed.|
|●||Working safely is a requirement of our employees.|
|●||Controlling the work environment is important, but human behavior within the work environment is paramount.|
|●||Safety starts with individual decision-making—all employees must assume a share of responsibility for acts within their control that pose a risk of injury to themselves or fellow workers.|
|●||All levels of the organization must be proactive in implementing safety processes that promote a safe and healthy work environment.|
|●||Consequently, we are committed to providing a safe work environment; providing our employees with proper training and equipment; and implementing safety and health rules, policies and programs that foster safety excellence.|
Our safety program includes a focus on the following:
|●||Hiring the Right Workers. Our hiring program includes significant pre-employment screening and reference checks.|
|●||Safety Incentives. We have a compensation system that encourages and rewards excellent safety performance.|
|●||Communication. We conduct regular safety meetings with the frequent involvement of senior management to reinforce the "tone at the top.”|
|●||Drug and Alcohol Testing. We require pre-employment drug screening as well as regular random drug testing that exceeds regulatory requirements.|
|●||Continuous Improvement Programs. We track key safety performance metrics, including accident rates, violation types and frequencies. We have specific targets in these areas and we measure performance against these targets. Specific action plans are implemented for targeted improvement in areas where performance falls below our expectations.|
|●||Training. Our training program includes comprehensive new employee orientation and training, annual refresher training and task training components. These training modules are designed to reinforce our high safety expectations. Work rules and procedures are a key element of this training.|
|●||Accident Investigation. We have a structured accident investigation procedure that identifies root causes of accidents as well as actions necessary to prevent reoccurrence. We focus on near misses and close calls as a means of attempting to prevent more serious accidents from occurring.|
|●||Safety Audits. We conduct periodic safety audits that include work place examinations, including observation of workers at work, as well as safety program reviews. Both internal and external resources are utilized to conduct these audits.|
|●||Employee Performance Improvement. A key element of our safety program is the recognition that safe work practices are a requirement of employment. We identify employee performance which is below expectations and develop specific action plans for improvement.|
|●||Employee Involvement. The key to excellent safety is employee involvement and engagement. We foster direct employee involvement in a number of ways including audit participation, accident investigations, as training resources and through solicitation of ideas in small group meetings and through anonymous workplace observation suggestion boxes.|
|●||Positive Reinforcement. Establishing safety as a core belief is paramount to our safety performance. As a result, we look for opportunities to celebrate accomplishments and to build pride in our operational safety and performance.|
Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act ("JOBS Act”)
We are an "emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the "JOBS Act”). For as long as we are an emerging growth company, unlike public companies that are not emerging growth companies under the JOBS Act, we will not be required to:
|●||provide an auditor’s attestation report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our system of internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002;|
|●||comply with any new requirements adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the "PCAOB”) requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report in which the auditor would be required to provide additional information about the audit and the financial statements of the issuer;|
|●||provide certain disclosure regarding executive compensation required of larger public companies or hold stockholder advisory votes on the executive compensation required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the "Dodd-Frank Act”); or|
|●||obtain stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.|
We will cease to be an emerging growth company upon the earliest of:
|●||the last day of the fiscal year in which we have $1.07 billion or more in annual revenues;|
|●||the date on which we become a "large accelerated filer” (the fiscal year-end on which the total market value of our common equity securities held by non-affiliates is $700 million or more as of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter);|
|●||the date on which we issue more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt over a three-year period; or|
|●||the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of our initial public offering, which will be December 31, 2022.|
Our investor relations website is ir.ramacoresources.com and we encourage investors to use it as a way of easily finding information about us. We promptly make available on this website, free of charge, the reports that we file or furnish with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC”), corporate governance information (including our Code of Conduct and Ethics) and press releases. Our filings with the SEC are also available to the public from commercial document retrieval services and at the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.
Our business involves certain risks and uncertainties. The following is a description of significant risks that might cause our future financial condition or results of operations to differ materially from those expected. In addition to the risks and uncertainties described below, we may face other risks and uncertainties, some of which may be unknown to us and some of which we may deem immaterial. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. A summary of our risk factors is as follows:
Risks Related to Our Business
|●||The impact of the spread of COVID-19 and the measures taken to mitigate it are adversely affecting our business, operations and financial condition.|
|●||Our properties have not yet been fully developed into producing coal mines and, if we experience any development delays or cost increases or are unable to complete the construction of our facilities, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.|
|●||We have customer concentration, so the loss of, or significant reduction in, purchases by our largest coal customers could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.|
|●||Our customer base is highly dependent on the steel industry.|
|●||Deterioration in the global economic conditions, a worldwide financial downturn or negative credit market conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends.|
|●||We have incurred debt under the Paycheck Protection Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government or private plaintiffs may challenge our determination that we meet the requirements for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.|
|●||We do not enter into long-term sales contracts for our coal and as a result we are exposed to fluctuations in market pricing.|
|●||We face uncertainties in estimating our economically recoverable coal reserves, and inaccuracies in our estimates could result in lower than expected revenues, higher than expected costs and decreased profitability.|
|●||A substantial or extended decline in the prices we receive for our coal could adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.|
|●||Increased competition or a loss of our competitive position could adversely affect sales of, or prices for, our coal, which could impair our profitability.|
|●||The availability and reliability of transportation facilities and fluctuations in transportation costs could affect the demand for our coal or impair our ability to supply coal to prospective customers.|
|●||Any significant downtime of our major pieces of mining equipment, including any preparation plants, could impair our ability to supply coal to prospective customers and materially and adversely affect our results of operations.|
|●||Our ability to collect payments from customers could be impaired if their creditworthiness declines or if they fail to honor their contracts with us.|
|●||If we are unable to obtain needed capital or financing on satisfactory terms, we may have to curtail our operations and delay our construction and growth plans, which may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.|
|●||Our operations could be adversely affected if we are unable to obtain required financial assurance, or if the costs of financial assurance increase materially.|
|●||Defects in title or loss of any leasehold interests in our properties could limit our ability to conduct mining operations on these properties or result in significant unanticipated costs.|
|●||Substantially all of our mining properties are leased from our affiliates and conflicts of interest may arise in the future as a result.|
|●||We may face restricted access to international markets in the future.|
Risks Related to Environmental, Health, Safety and Other Regulations
|●||The incoming U.S. administration and Congress could enact legislative and regulatory measures that could adversely affect our mining operations or cost structure or our customers’ ability to use coal, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||Current and future government laws, regulations and other legal requirements relating to protection of the environment and natural resources may increase our costs of doing business and may restrict our coal operations.|
|●||Our operations may impact the environment or cause exposure to hazardous substances, and our properties may have environmental contamination, which could expose us to significant costs and liabilities.|
|●||We must obtain, maintain, and renew governmental permits and approvals for mining operations, which can be a costly and time-consuming process and result in restrictions on our operations.|
|●||We and our significant stockholders are subject to the Applicant Violator System.|
|●||Our mines are subject to stringent federal and state safety regulations that increase our cost of doing business at active operations and may place restrictions on our methods of operation. In addition, government inspectors in certain circumstances may have the ability to order our operations to be shut down based on safety considerations.|
|●||We have reclamation, mine closing, and related environmental obligations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. If the assumptions underlying our accruals are inaccurate, we could be required to expend greater amounts than anticipated.|
Risks Related to Our Company
|●||Our ability to pay dividends may be limited by the amount of cash we generate from operations following the payment of fees and expenses, by restrictions in any future debt instruments and by additional factors unrelated to our profitability.|
|●||Our significant stockholders have the ability to direct the voting of a majority of the voting power of our common stock, and their interests may conflict with those of our other stockholders.|
|●||Your percentage of ownership in us may be diluted in the future.|
|●||Certain of our directors have significant duties with, and spend significant time serving, entities that may compete with us in seeking acquisitions and business opportunities and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in allocating time or pursuing business opportunities.|
|●||Our significant stockholders and their affiliates are not limited in their ability to compete with us, and the corporate opportunity provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation (our "Charter”) could enable our significant stockholders to benefit from corporate opportunities that might otherwise be available to us.|
Risks Related to Our Business
The global spread of COVID-19 has created significant volatility, uncertainty, and economic disruption during 2020. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments worldwide placed significant restrictions on both domestic and international travel and took action to restrict the movement of people and suspend some business operations. Lockdowns, travel restrictions and restrictions on public gatherings, coupled with the spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in a significant worldwide economic slowdown. In certain cases, states that had begun taking steps to reopen their economies experienced a subsequent surge in cases of COVID-19, causing these states to cease such reopening measures in some cases and reinstitute restrictions in others. Rates of COVID-19 contractions have worsened in the United States during the winter months, and will likely cause federal, state and local governments to impose more severe restrictions on business and social activities. In the event governments impose such restrictions, the recovery of the economy may be further curtailed.
These social and governmental responses have caused a significant slowdown in the global economy and financial markets, and the current and anticipated economic impact of these actions has caused declines in many commodity prices, including a decline in metallurgical coal prices, and significant decline in the demand for steel. The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and financial results will continue to depend on numerous evolving factors that we are not able to accurately predict, including the duration and scope of the pandemic, global economic conditions during and after the pandemic, governmental actions that have been taken, or may be taken in the future, in response to the pandemic, the development and availability of treatments and vaccines and extent to which these treatments and vaccines may remain effective as potential new strains of the coronavirus emerge, and changes in consumer behavior in response to the pandemic, some of which may be more than just temporary.
Like other coal companies, our business has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and measures being taken to mitigate its impact. The pandemic has resulted in widespread adverse impacts on our employees, customers, suppliers and other parties with whom we have business relations. Our actions have included:
|●||an operational furlough of approximately 182 employees at the Elk Creek mining complex in West Virginia for most of the month of April 2020;|
|●||a one week operational furlough of approximately 157 employees at the Elk Creek mining complex in July 2020;|
|●||the partial closure of our Berwind low volatile development mine complex affecting approximately 44 employees effective in July 2020; and|
|●||a reduction or deferral of non-essential capital expenditures to adapt to the current market conditions.|
Two customers declared a material adverse change or force majeure under their contracts with us and reduced or delayed their planned volumes of purchases of metallurgical coal from us for 2020 because of COVID-19. These delays or curtailments affected approximately 10% or 200,000 tons of our total contracted sales volumes for 2020 all of which was placed into the lower priced spot market.
These actions by customers may result in some disputes and could strain our relations with customers and others. If and to the extent these actions result in material modifications or cancellations of the underlying contracts, or
non-renewal of contracts, our business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and government responses are rapidly evolving, the extent of the impact on domestic coal companies remains unknown. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the extent and duration of governmental and other measures implemented to try to slow the spread of the virus, such as large-scale travel bans and restrictions, border closures, quarantines, stay-at-home orders and business and government shutdowns. Restrictions of this nature have caused, and likely will continue to cause, us, our suppliers and other business counterparties to experience operational delays and delays in the delivery of materials and supplies that are sourced from around the globe, and have caused, and likely will continue to cause, milestones or deadlines relating to various projects to be missed. We have also modified certain business and workforce practices (including those related to employee travel, employee work locations, and cancellation of physical participation in meetings, events and conferences) to conform to government restrictions and best practices encouraged by governmental and regulatory authorities. However, the quarantine of personnel or the inability to access our facilities could adversely affect our operations.
We cannot predict the full impact that COVID-19 will have on our business, cash flows, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations at this time, due to numerous uncertainties. The ultimate impacts will depend on future developments, including, among others, the consequences of governmental and other measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, the development of effective treatments, the duration of the outbreak, actions taken by governmental authorities, customers, suppliers and other third parties, workforce availability, and the timing and extent to which normal economic and operating conditions resume.
Our properties have not yet been fully developed into producing coal mines and, if we experience any development delays or cost increases or are unable to complete the construction of our facilities, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We have not completed development plans for all of our coal properties, and do not expect to have full annual production from all of our properties until market conditions permit us to resume and complete these development plans. We expect to incur significant capital expenditures until we have completed the development of our properties. In addition, the development of our properties involves numerous regulatory, environmental, political and legal uncertainties that are beyond our control and that may cause delays in, or increase the costs associated with, their completion. Accordingly, we may not be able to complete the development of the properties on schedule, at the budgeted cost or at all, and any delays beyond the expected development periods or increased costs above those expected to be incurred could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
If we are unable to complete or are substantially delayed in completing the development of any of our properties, our business, financial condition, results of operations cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders could be adversely affected.
We have customer concentration, so the loss of, or significant reduction in, purchases by our largest coal customers could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are exposed to risks associated with an increasingly concentrated customer base both domestically and globally. We derive a significant portion of our revenues from three customers, which accounted for approximately 33%, 24% and 13% of our total revenue, respectively, aggregating approximately 70% of our total revenue for the 12 months ended December 31, 2020. The balance due from these customers at December 31, 2020 was approximately 46% of total accounts receivable.
In 2020, two of these customers declared force majeure with respect to or curtailed their contractual obligations to purchase metallurgical coal from us due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. These reductions and delays lowered our total contracted sales volumes for 2020 by approximately 10% or almost 200,000 tons. Based on the current economic environment, it is possible that a portion of our contractual commitments for 2021 could be similarly delayed or curtailed, and we are not currently able to anticipate the impact such curtailments or delays could have on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
There are inherent risks whenever a significant percentage of total revenues are concentrated with a limited number of customers. Revenues from our largest customers may fluctuate from time to time based on numerous factors, including market conditions, which may be outside of our control. If any of our largest customers experience declining revenues due to market, economic or competitive conditions, we could be pressured to reduce the prices that we charge for our coal, which could have an adverse effect on our margins, profitability, cash flows and financial position. If any customers were to significantly reduce their purchases of coal from us, including by failing to buy and pay for coal they committed to purchase in sales contracts, our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders could be adversely affected.
Substantially all of the metallurgical coal that we produce is sold to steel producers. Therefore, demand for our metallurgical coal is highly correlated to the steel industry. The steel industry’s demand for metallurgical coal is affected by a number of factors including the cyclical nature of that industry’s business, technological developments in the steel-making process and the availability of substitutes for steel such as aluminum, composites and plastics. A significant reduction in the demand for steel products would reduce the demand for metallurgical coal, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. Similarly, if less expensive ingredients could be used in substitution for metallurgical coal in the integrated steel mill process, the demand for metallurgical coal would materially decrease, which would also materially adversely affect demand for our metallurgical coal. Metallurgical coal markets weakened significantly beginning in 2019 as certain China ports placed restrictions on imported coal and weakened further in 2020 due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between these import restrictions and the economic impacts of the pandemic, concerns about the stability of the global economy and the ongoing trade dispute between China and the U.S., metallurgical coal prices dropped meaningfully in 2019 and 2020. Our export customers, excluding Canada, include foreign steel producers who may be affected by the tariffs to the extent their production is imported into the U.S. Retaliatory threats by foreign nations to these tariffs may limit international trade and adversely impact global economic conditions.
Deterioration in the global economic conditions in any of the industries in which prospective customers operate, a worldwide financial downturn or negative credit market conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Economic conditions in the industries in which most of our prospective customers operate, such as steelmaking and electric power generation, substantially deteriorated in recent years and reduced the demand for coal. A deterioration of economic conditions in our prospective customers’ industries could cause a decline in demand for and production of metallurgical coal. Renewed or continued weakness in the economic conditions of any of the industries served by prospective customers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
We have incurred debt under the Paycheck Protection Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government or private plaintiffs may challenge our determination that we meet the requirements for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.
On April 20, 2020, we received loan proceeds in the amount of approximately $8.4 million under the Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP”) from KeyBank, as lender. In order to obtain the loan, we made a certification to the SBA that the then-current economic uncertainty, including uncertainty in the capital markets, made the loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Company. On April 23, 2020, the SBA issued additional guidance on eligibility for the PPP (the "FAQs”), expressing its view that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will not likely be able to make the required certification in good faith. The SBA noted that such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to the SBA the basis for such company’s certification. Further, on April 28, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin advised that all companies that have been extended PPP loans in excess of $2 million will be audited. We believe, in light of the FAQs, that we have met the required good faith certification requirements and continue to meet the eligibility requirements for a PPP loan, and we have applied for forgiveness of our PPP loan. However, the federal government or a private plaintiff may disagree and assert otherwise. Any such contest with the federal government or third party action as a result of the PPP loan may require us to incur significant legal, accounting
and related fees. In addition, if it was ultimately determined that the certifications we made in connection with the PPP loan were not in good faith, it may result in civil and criminal penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and financial condition.
The SBA continues to develop and issue new and updated guidance regarding the PPP loans application process, including guidance regarding required borrower certifications and requirements for forgiveness of loans made under the program. We continue to track the guidance as it is released and assess and re-assess various aspects of its application as necessary based on the guidance. While we believe we have used loan proceeds for qualifying expenses, given the evolving nature of the guidance, it is possible that future changes in the rules and regulations regarding PPP loans, or the SBA’s interpretation thereof, could affect whether the PPP loan is ultimately forgiven. Our application for forgiveness was approved by KeyBank and is currently being reviewed by the SBA, but there is no assurance that the SBA will approve the application for forgiveness.
We do not enter into long-term sales contracts for our coal and as a result we are exposed to fluctuations in market pricing.
Sales commitments in the metallurgical coal market are typically not long-term in nature and are generally no longer than one year in duration. Most metallurgical coal transactions in the U.S. are done on a calendar year basis, where both prices and volumes are fixed in the third and fourth quarter for the following calendar year. Globally the market is evolving to shorter term pricing. Some annual contracts have shifted to quarterly contracts and most volumes are being sold on an indexed basis, where prices are determined by averaging the leading spot indexes reported in the market and adjusting for quality. As a result, we are subject to fluctuations in market pricing. We are not protected from oversupply or market conditions where we cannot sell our coal at economic prices. Metallurgical coal has been an extremely volatile commodity over the past ten years and prices are likely to be volatile in the future. There can be no assurances we will be able to mitigate such conditions as they arise. Any sustained failure to be able to market our coal during such periods would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
The costs of establishing the infrastructure necessary to enable us to continue to ramp up our mining operations will be significant. We have constructed preparation and loading facilities at our Elk Creek mining complex. Our Berwind mine will remain under development until we reach our targeted coal reserves in the Pocahontas No. 4 seam. That coal is currently, and is planned to continue to be, washed at our active Knox Creek plant. At our RAM Mine, we may require access to either newly constructed preparation and loading facilities or arrangements with third parties to process and load our coal. Alternatively, we might mine the coal in a manner that allows us to ship the coal direct without washing. We will analyze whether to expend capital to construct preparation facilities or enter into third-party processing arrangements. Our failure to provide the necessary preparation, processing and loading facilities for our projects would have a material adverse effect on our operations.
The risks associated with the construction and operation of mines, processing plants and related infrastructure include:
|●||the potential lack of availability or cost of skilled and unskilled labor, equipment and principal supplies needed for construction of facilities;|
|●||the need to obtain necessary environmental and other governmental approvals and permits and the timing of the receipt of those approvals and permits;|
|●||geologic mine failures, surface facility construction failures or mining, coal processing or transport equipment failures;|
|●||structural failure of an impoundment or refuse area;|
|●||natural phenomena such as inclement weather conditions, floods, droughts, rock slides and seismic activity;|
|●||unusual or unexpected geological and coal quality conditions;|
|●||potential opposition from non-governmental organizations, environmental groups or other activists, which may delay or prevent development activities; and|
|●||restrictions or regulations imposed by governmental or regulatory authorities.|
The costs, timing and complexities of developing our projects may be greater than anticipated. Cost estimates may increase significantly as more detailed engineering work is completed on a project. It is common in mining operations to experience unexpected costs, problems and delays during construction, development and mine start-up.
Substantially all of our coal production is comprised of metallurgical coal, which commands a significant price premium over the majority of other forms of coal because of its use in blast furnaces for steel production. Metallurgical coal has specific physical and chemical properties, which are necessary for efficient blast furnace operation. Steel producers are continually investigating alternative steel production technologies with a view to reducing production costs. The steel industry has increased utilization of electric arc furnaces or pulverized coal injection processes, which reduce or eliminate the use of furnace coke, an intermediate product produced from metallurgical coal and, in turn, generally decreases the demand for metallurgical coal. Many alternative technologies are designed to use lower quality coals or other sources of carbon instead of higher cost high-quality metallurgical coal. While conventional blast furnace technology has been the most economic large-scale steel production technology for a number of years, and emergent technologies typically take many years to commercialize, there can be no assurance that over the longer term competitive technologies not reliant on metallurgical coal would not emerge, which could reduce the demand and price premiums for metallurgical coal.
Moreover, we may produce and market other coal products, such as thermal coal, which are also subject to alternative competition. Alternative technologies are continually being investigated and developed in order to reduce production costs or minimize environmental or social impact. If competitive technologies emerge that use other materials in place of our products, demand and price for our products might fall.
We face uncertainties in estimating our economically recoverable coal reserves, and inaccuracies in our estimates could result in lower than expected revenues, higher than expected costs and decreased profitability.
Coal is economically recoverable when the price at which coal can be sold exceeds the costs and expenses of mining and selling the coal. Any forecasts of our future performance are based on, among other things, estimates of our recoverable coal reserves. We base our reserve information on geologic data, coal ownership information and current and proposed mine plans. There are numerous uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities and qualities of coal and costs to mine recoverable reserves, including many factors beyond our control. As a result, estimates of economically recoverable coal reserves are by their nature uncertain. Some of the factors and assumptions that can impact economically recoverable coal reserve estimates include:
|●||geologic and mining conditions;|
|●||historical production from the area compared with production from other producing areas;|
|●||the assumed effects of environmental and other regulations and taxes by governmental agencies;|
|●||our ability to obtain, maintain and renew all required permits;|
|●||future improvements in mining technology;|
|●||assumptions related to future prices; and|
|●||future operating costs, including the cost of materials, and capital expenditures.|
Each of the factors that impacts reserve estimation may vary considerably from the assumptions used in estimating the reserves. For these reasons, estimates of coal reserves may vary substantially. Actual production, revenues and expenditures with respect to our future coal reserves may vary from estimates, and these variances may be material. As a result, our estimates may not accurately reflect our actual future coal reserves.
Our profitability depends substantially on our ability to mine, in a cost-effective manner, coal reserves that possess the quality characteristics that prospective customers desire. Because our reserves will decline as we mine our coal, our future profitability depends upon our ability to acquire additional coal reserves that are economically recoverable to replace the reserves we will produce. If we fail to acquire or develop sufficient additional reserves over the long term to replace the reserves depleted by our production, our existing reserves could eventually be exhausted.
Customers typically request test shipments of coal in advance of entering into coal sales agreements which requires that we provide coal quality to meet customer specifications. If we experience delays in the delivery of test shipments, it could negatively impact our ability to develop our customer base.
We regularly use contractors in the development of our mines and intend to use contractors if and when we construct facilities at the RAM Mine. Timely and cost-effective completion of the development of our properties, including necessary facilities and infrastructure, in compliance with agreed specifications is central to our business strategy and is highly dependent on the performance of our contractors under the agreements with them.
Although some agreements may provide for liquidated damages, if the contractor fails to perform in the manner required with respect to certain of its obligations, the events that trigger a requirement to pay liquidated damages may delay or impair the operation of our properties, and any liquidated damages that we receive may not be sufficient to cover the damages that we suffer as a result of any such delay or impairment. Further, we may have disagreements with our contractors about different elements of the construction process, which could lead to the assertion of rights and remedies under their contracts and increase the costs associated with development of the properties or result in a contractor’s unwillingness to perform further work. If any contractor is unable or unwilling to perform according to the negotiated terms and timetable of its respective agreement for any reason or terminates its agreement, we would be required to engage a substitute contractor. This would likely result in significant project delays and increased costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Prices for coal are volatile and can fluctuate widely based upon a number of factors beyond our control, including oversupply relative to the demand available for our coal and weather. A substantial or extended decline in the prices we receive for our coal could adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Our financial results are significantly affected by the prices we receive for our coal and depend, in part, on the margins that we earn on sales of our coal. Our margins will reflect the price we receive for our coal over our cost of producing and transporting our coal. Prices and quantities under U.S. domestic metallurgical coal sales contracts are generally based on expectations of the next year’s coal prices at the time the contract is entered into, renewed, extended or re-opened. Pricing in the global seaborne market is moving towards shorter term pricing models, typically using indexes. The expectation of future prices for coal depends upon many factors beyond our control, including the following:
|●||the market price for coal;|
|●||overall domestic and global economic conditions, including the supply of and demand for domestic and foreign coal, coke and steel;|
|●||the consumption pattern of industrial consumers, electricity generators and residential users;|
|●||weather conditions in our markets that affect the demand for thermal coal or that affect the ability to produce metallurgical coal;|
|●||competition from other coal suppliers;|
|●||technological advances affecting energy consumption;|
|●||the costs, availability and capacity of transportation infrastructure;|
|●||the impact of domestic and foreign governmental laws and regulations, including environmental and climate change regulations and regulations affecting the coal mining industry, and delays in the receipt of, failure to receive, failure to maintain or revocation of necessary governmental permits; and|
|●||increased utilization by the steel industry of electric arc furnaces or pulverized coal injection processes, which reduce or eliminate the use of furnace coke, an intermediate product produced from metallurgical coal, and generally decrease the demand for metallurgical coal.|
Metallurgical coal has been an extremely volatile commodity over the past 10 years. There are no assurances that supplies will remain low, that demand will not decrease or that overcapacity may resume, which could cause declines in the prices of and demand for coal, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows.
Increased competition or a loss of our competitive position could adversely affect sales of, or prices for, our coal, which could impair our profitability. In addition, foreign currency fluctuations could adversely affect the competitiveness of our coal abroad.
We compete with other producers primarily on the basis of coal quality, delivered costs to the customer and reliability of supply. We compete primarily with U.S. coal producers and with some Canadian coal producers for sales of metallurgical coal to domestic steel producers and, to a lesser extent, thermal coal to electric power generators. We also compete with both domestic and foreign coal producers for sales of metallurgical coal in international markets. Certain of these coal producers may have greater financial resources and larger reserve bases than we do. We sell coal to the seaborne metallurgical coal market, which is significantly affected by international demand and competition.
We cannot assure you that competition from other producers will not adversely affect us in the future. The coal industry has experienced significant consolidation in recent years, including consolidation among some of our major competitors. We cannot assure you that the result of current or further consolidation in the coal industry, or the reorganization through bankruptcy of competitors with large legacy liabilities, will not adversely affect us. A number of our competitors have idled production over the last several years in light of lower metallurgical coal prices. A stabilization or increase in coal prices could encourage existing producers to expand capacity or could encourage new producers to enter the market.
In addition, we face competition from foreign producers that sell their coal in the export market. Potential changes to international trade agreements, trade concessions, foreign currency fluctuations or other political and economic arrangements may benefit coal producers operating in countries other than the United States. Additionally, North American steel producers face competition from foreign steel producers, which could adversely impact the financial condition and business of our prospective customers. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete on the basis of price or other factors with companies that in the future may benefit from favorable foreign trade policies or other arrangements. Coal is sold internationally in U.S. dollars and, as a result, general economic conditions in foreign markets and changes in foreign currency exchange rates may provide our foreign competitors with a competitive advantage. If our competitors’ currencies decline against the U.S. dollar or against our prospective foreign customers’ local currencies, those competitors may be able to offer lower prices for coal to prospective customers. Furthermore, if the currencies of our prospective overseas customers were to significantly decline in value in comparison to the U.S. dollar, those prospective customers may seek decreased prices for the coal we sell to them. Consequently, currency fluctuations could adversely affect the competitiveness of our coal in international markets, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our business involves many hazards and operating risks, some of which may not be fully covered by insurance. The occurrence of a significant accident or other event that is not fully insured could adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Our mining operations, including our preparation and transportation infrastructure, are subject to many hazards and operating risks. Underground mining and related processing activities present inherent risks of injury to persons and damage to property and equipment. Our mines are subject to a number of operating risks that could disrupt operations, decrease production and increase the cost of mining for varying lengths of time, thereby adversely affecting our operating results. In addition, if coal production declines, we may not be able to produce sufficient amounts of coal to deliver under future sales contracts. Our inability to satisfy contractual obligations could result in prospective customers initiating claims against us. The operating risks that may have a significant impact on our future coal operations include:
|●||variations in thickness of seams of coal;|
|●||adverse geologic conditions, including amounts of rock and other natural materials intruding into the coal seam, that could affect the stability of the roof and the side walls of the mine;|
|●||mining and processing equipment failures, structural failures and unexpected maintenance problems;|
|●||fires or explosions, including as a result of methane, coal, coal dust or other explosive materials, or other accidents;|
|●||inclement or hazardous weather conditions and natural disasters or other force majeure events;|
|●||seismic activities, ground failures, rock bursts or structural cave-ins or slides;|
|●||delays in moving our mining equipment;|
|●||railroad delays or derailments;|
|●||security breaches or terroristic acts; and|
|●||other hazards or occurrences that could also result in personal injury and loss of life, pollution and suspension of operations.|
Any of these risks could adversely affect our ability to conduct operations or result in substantial loss to us as a result of claims for:
|●||personal injury or loss of life;|
|●||damage to and destruction of property, natural resources and equipment, including our coal properties and our coal production or transportation facilities;|
|●||pollution, contamination and other environmental damage to our properties or the properties of others;|
|●||potential legal liability and monetary losses;|
|●||regulatory investigations, actions and penalties;|
|●||suspension of our operations; and|
|●||repair and remediation costs.|
Although we maintain insurance for a number of risks and hazards, we may not be insured or fully insured, and we may not be able to recover under our insurance policies, against the losses or liabilities that could arise from a significant accident in our future coal operations. We may elect not to obtain insurance for any or all of these risks if we believe that the cost of available insurance is excessive relative to the risks presented. In addition, pollution, contamination and environmental risks generally are not fully insurable. Moreover, a significant mine accident or regulatory infraction could potentially cause a mine shutdown. The occurrence of an event that is not fully covered by insurance could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
In addition, if any of the foregoing changes, conditions or events occurs and is not determined to be a force majeure event, any resulting failure on our part to deliver coal to the purchaser under contract could result in economic penalties, suspension or cancellation of shipments or ultimately termination of the agreement, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Currently, all of our operations are conducted in a single geographic region in the eastern United States in the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The geographic concentration of our operations may disproportionately expose us to disruptions in our operations if the region experiences severe weather, transportation capacity constraints, constraints on the availability of required equipment, facilities, personnel or services, significant governmental regulation or natural disasters. If any of these factors were to impact the region in which we operate more than other coal producing regions, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows will be adversely affected relative to other mining companies that have a more geographically diversified asset portfolio.
In addition, scientists have warned that increasing concentrations of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere may produce climate changes that have significant physical effects, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts and floods and other climatic events. If these warnings are correct, and if any such effects were to occur in areas where we or our customers operate, they could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and cash flows.
The availability and reliability of transportation facilities and fluctuations in transportation costs could affect the demand for our coal or impair our ability to supply coal to prospective customers.
Transportation logistics play an important role in allowing us to supply coal to prospective customers. Any significant delays, interruptions or other limitations on the ability to transport our coal could negatively affect our operations. Delays and interruptions of rail services because of accidents, failure to complete construction of rail infrastructure, infrastructure damage, lack of rail or port capacity, weather-related problems, governmental regulation, terrorism, strikes, lock-outs, third-party actions or other events could impair our ability to supply coal to customers and adversely affect our profitability. In addition, transportation costs represent a significant portion of the delivered cost of coal and, as a result, the cost of delivery is a critical factor in a customer’s purchasing decision. Increases in transportation costs, including increases resulting from emission control requirements and fluctuations in the price of locomotive diesel fuel and demurrage, could make our coal less competitive, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Any significant downtime of our major pieces of mining equipment, including any preparation plants, could impair our ability to supply coal to prospective customers and materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
We depend on several major pieces of mining equipment to produce and transport our coal, including, but not limited to, underground continuous mining units and coal conveying systems, surface mining equipment such as highwall miners, front-end loaders and coal overburden haul trucks, preparation plants and related facilities, conveyors and transloading facilities. If any of these pieces of equipment or facilities suffered major damage or were destroyed by fire, abnormal wear, flooding, incorrect operation or otherwise, we may be unable to replace or repair them in a timely manner or at a reasonable cost, which would impact our ability to produce and transport coal and materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. Moreover, the Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA”) and other regulatory agencies sometimes make changes with regards to requirements for pieces of equipment. Such changes could cause delays if manufacturers and suppliers are unable to make the required changes in compliance with mandated deadlines.
If either our preparation plants, or train loadout facilities, or those of a third party processing or loading our coal, suffer extended downtime, including from major damage, or is destroyed, our ability to process and deliver coal to prospective customers would be materially impacted, which would materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders. For example, in late 2018, we experienced a partial structural failure at one of the raw coal storage silos that feeds our Elk Creek plant in West Virginia, which idled our Elk Creek preparation plant for approximately one month.
Coal mined from our operations is subject to testing by prospective customers for its ability to meet various specifications and to work satisfactorily in their ovens and other facilities prior to entering into contracts for purchase (which are typically short-term orders having terms of one year or less). If we are unable to successfully test our coals or enter into new contracts for the sale of our coal, our ability to achieve profitability would be materially adversely affected. Once we enter into contracts, if a substantial portion of our sales contracts are modified or terminated and we are unable to replace the contracts (or if new contracts are priced at lower levels), our results of operations would be adversely affected, perhaps materially. In addition, if customers refuse to accept shipments of our coal for which they have a contractual obligation, our revenues could be substantially affected and we may have to reduce production at our mines until the customer’s contractual obligations are honored. This, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on the payments we receive which could affect our business, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Certain provisions in typical long-term sales contracts provide limited protection during adverse economic conditions, which may eventually result in economic penalties to us or permit the customer to terminate the contract. Furthermore, our ability to collect payments from prospective customers could be impaired if their creditworthiness declines or if they fail to honor their contracts with us.
We do not expect to enter into significant long-term sales contracts, but if we do, price adjustment, "price reopener” and other similar provisions typical in long-term sales contracts may reduce protection from short-term coal price volatility traditionally provided by such contracts. Price reopener provisions may be included in our future sales contracts. These price reopener provisions may automatically set a new price based on prevailing market price or, in some instances, require the parties to agree on a new price, sometimes within a specified range of prices. Any adjustment or renegotiations leading to a significantly lower contract price could adversely affect our profitability. Some annual metallurgical coal contracts have shifted to quarterly contracts and many include prices determined by averaging the leading spot indexes reported in the market, exposing us further to risks related to pricing volatility.
Our ability to receive payment for coal sold and delivered depends on the continued solvency and creditworthiness of prospective customers. The number of domestic steel producers is small, and they compete globally for steel production. If their business or creditworthiness suffers, we may bear an increased risk with respect to payment default. Competition with other coal suppliers could force us to extend credit to customers and on terms that could increase the risk we bear with respect to payment default. We could also enter into agreements to supply coal to energy trading and brokering customers under which a customer sells coal to end-users. If the creditworthiness of any prospective energy trading and brokering customer declines, we may not be able to collect payment for all coal sold and delivered to or on behalf of this customer.
In addition, if customers refuse to accept shipments of our coal that they have a contractual obligation to purchase, our revenues will decrease and we may have to reduce production at our mines until prospective customers’ contractual obligations are honored. Our inability to collect payment from counterparties to our sales contracts may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
While demand for metallurgical coal is not closely linked to domestic demand for electricity, we anticipate that the incidental production of thermal coal may generate up to 5% of our tons sold annually. Any changes in coal consumption by electric power generators in the United States would likely impact our business over the long term.
The low price of natural gas in recent years has resulted, in many instances, in domestic electric generators increasing natural gas consumption while decreasing coal consumption. Federal and state mandates for increased use of electricity derived from renewable energy sources, such as the Clean Power Plan ("CPP”), also affect demand for our thermal coal. A decrease in coal consumption by the electric power generation industry could adversely affect the price
of coal, which could have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Changes in the coal industry that affect our prospective customers, such as those caused by decreased electricity demand and increased competition, could also adversely affect our business. Indirect competition from natural gas fired plants that are relatively less expensive to construct and less difficult to permit has the most potential to displace a significant amount of coal fired electric power generation in the near term, particularly older, less efficient coal fired powered generators. In addition, uncertainty caused by federal and state regulations could cause thermal coal customers to be uncertain of their coal requirements in future years, which could adversely affect our ability to sell coal to such prospective customers under multi-year sales contracts. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows.
We may be unsuccessful in integrating the operations of any future acquisitions, including acquisitions involving new lines of business, with our existing operations, and in realizing all or any part of the anticipated benefits of any such acquisitions.
From time to time, we may evaluate and acquire assets and businesses that we believe complement our existing assets and business, such as the mineral lease with the McDonald Land Company for coal reserves adjacent to our Elk Creek mine complex near Logan, West Virginia. The assets and businesses we acquire may be dissimilar from our initial lines of business. Acquisitions may require substantial capital or the incurrence of substantial indebtedness. Our capitalization and results of operations may change significantly as a result of future acquisitions. We may also add new lines of business to our existing operations.
Further, unexpected costs and challenges may arise whenever businesses with different operations or management are combined, and we may experience unanticipated delays in realizing the benefits of an acquisition. Entry into certain lines of business may subject us to new laws and regulations with which we are not familiar and may lead to increased litigation and regulatory risk. Also, following an acquisition, we may discover previously unknown liabilities associated with the acquired business or assets for which we have no recourse under applicable indemnification provisions. If an acquired business or new line of business generates insufficient revenue or if we are unable to efficiently manage our expanded operations, our results of operations may be materially adversely affected.
To maintain and grow our business, we will be required to make substantial capital expenditures. If we are unable to obtain needed capital or financing on satisfactory terms, we may have to curtail our operations and delay our construction and growth plans, which may materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
In order to maintain and grow our business, we will need to make substantial capital expenditures associated with our mines and the construction of coal preparation facilities which have not yet been constructed. Constructing, maintaining, repairing and expanding mines and infrastructure, including coal preparation and loading facilities, is capital intensive. Specifically, the exploration, permitting and development of coal reserves, and the maintenance of machinery, equipment and facilities, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations require substantial capital expenditures. While we funded a significant amount of the capital expenditures needed to build out our mining and preparation infrastructure at our Elk Creek property with cash on hand, we must continue to invest capital to maintain or to increase our production and to develop any future acquired properties. Decisions to increase our production levels could also affect our capital needs. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain our production levels or generate sufficient cash flow, or that we will have access to sufficient financing to continue our production, exploration, permitting and development activities, and we may be required to defer all or a portion of our capital expenditures.
If we do not make sufficient or effective capital expenditures, we will be unable to develop and grow our business. To fund our projected capital expenditures, we will be required to use cash from our operations, incur debt or issue additional common stock or other equity securities. Using cash from our operations will reduce cash available for maintaining or increasing our operating activities and paying dividends to our stockholders. Our ability to obtain bank financing or our ability to access the capital markets for future equity or debt offerings may be limited by our financial
condition at the time of any such financing or offering and the covenants in our future debt agreements, as well as by general economic conditions, contingencies and uncertainties that are beyond our control.
In addition, incurring debt may significantly increase our interest expense and financial leverage, and issuing additional equity securities may result in significant stockholder dilution.
Coal mining consumes large quantities of commodities including steel, copper, rubber products and liquid fuels and requires the use of capital equipment. Some commodities, such as steel, are needed to comply with roof control plans required by regulation. The prices we pay for commodities and capital equipment are strongly impacted by the global market. A rapid or significant increase in the costs of commodities or capital equipment we use in our operations could impact our mining operations costs because we may have a limited ability to negotiate lower prices and, in some cases, may not have a ready substitute.
We use equipment in our coal mining and transportation operations such as continuous mining units, conveyors, shuttle cars, rail cars, locomotives, and roof bolters. We procure this equipment from a concentrated group of suppliers, and obtaining this equipment often involves long lead times. Occasionally, demand for such equipment by mining companies can be high and some types of equipment may be in short supply. Delays in receiving or shortages of this equipment, as well as the raw materials used in the manufacturing of supplies and mining equipment, which, in some cases, do not have ready substitutes, or the cancellation of any future supply contracts under which we obtain equipment and other consumables, could limit our ability to obtain these supplies or equipment. In addition, if any of our suppliers experiences an adverse event, or decides to no longer do business with us, we may be unable to obtain sufficient equipment and raw materials in a timely manner or at a reasonable price to allow us to meet our production goals and our revenues may be adversely impacted. We use considerable quantities of steel in the mining process. If the price of steel or other materials increases substantially or if the value of the U.S. dollar declines relative to foreign currencies with respect to certain imported supplies or other products, our operating expenses could increase. Any of the foregoing events could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
We are a holding company and our subsidiaries conduct all of our operations and own all of our operating assets. We have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to pay our obligations and to make dividend payments, should we choose to do so in the future, depends entirely on our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. The ability of a subsidiary to make these distributions could be affected by a claim or other action by a third-party, including a creditor, or by the law of their respective jurisdictions of formation which regulates the payment of dividends. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, we may not be able to declare or pay dividends.
Federal and state laws require financial assurance to secure our permit obligations including to reclaim lands used for mining, to pay federal and state workers’ compensation and black lung benefits, and to satisfy other miscellaneous obligations. The changes in the market for coal used to generate electricity in recent years have led to bankruptcies involving prominent coal producers. Several of these companies relied on self-bonding to guarantee their responsibilities under the SMCRA permits including for reclamation. In response to these bankruptcies, the OSMRE issued a Policy Advisory in August 2016 to state agencies that was intended to discourage authorized states from approving self-bonding arrangements. Although the Policy Advisory was rescinded in October 2017, certain states, including Virginia, had previously announced that it would no longer accept self-bonding to secure reclamation obligations under the state mining laws. Individually and collectively, these and future revised financial assurance
requirements may lead to increased demand for other forms of financial assurance, which may strain capacity for those instruments and increase our costs of obtaining and maintaining the amounts of financial assurance needed for our operations, which may delay the timing for and increase the costs of obtaining this financial assurance.
We use surety bonds, trusts and letters of credit to provide financial assurance for certain transactions and business activities. If, in the future, we are unable to secure surety bonds for these obligations and are forced to secure letters of credit indefinitely or obtain some other form of financial assurance at too high of a cost, we may not be able to obtain permits and production on our properties could be adversely affected. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Our coal reserves are in areas containing developed or undeveloped oil and natural gas deposits and reservoirs, including the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, and our Virginia reserves are currently the subject of substantial oil and natural gas exploration and production activities, including by horizontal drilling. If we have received a permit for our mining activities, then, while we will have to coordinate our mining with such oil and natural gas drillers, our mining activities are expected to have priority over any oil and natural gas drillers with respect to the land covered by our permit. For reserves outside of our permits, we expect to engage in discussions with drilling companies on potential areas on which they can drill that may have a minimal effect on our mine plan. Depending on priority of interests, our operations may have to avoid existing oil and gas wells or expend sums to plug oil and gas wells.
If a well is in the path of our mining for coal on land that has not yet been permitted for our mining activities, we may not be able to mine through the well unless we purchase it. The cost of purchasing a producing horizontal or vertical well could be substantial. Horizontal wells with multiple laterals extending from the well pad may access larger oil and natural gas reserves than a vertical well, which would typically result in a higher cost to acquire. The cost associated with purchasing oil and natural gas wells that are in the path of our coal mining activities may make mining through those wells uneconomical, thereby effectively causing a loss of significant portions of our coal reserves, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
We conduct a significant part of our mining operations on properties that we lease. A title defect or the loss of any lease upon expiration of its term, upon a default or otherwise, could adversely affect our ability to mine the associated reserves and/or process the coal we mine. Title to most of our owned or leased properties and mineral rights is not usually verified until we make a commitment to develop a property, which may not occur until after we have obtained necessary permits and completed exploration of the property. In some cases, we rely on title information or representations and warranties provided by our lessors or grantors. Our right to mine some of our reserves may be adversely affected if defects in title or boundaries exist or if a lease expires. Any challenge to our title or leasehold interests could delay the exploration and development of the property and could ultimately result in the loss of some or all of our interest in the property and, accordingly, require us to reduce our estimated coal reserves. Mining operations from time to time may rely on an expired lease that we are unable to renew. If we were to be in default with respect to leases for properties on which we have mining operations, we may have to close down or significantly alter the sequence of such mining operations, which may adversely affect our future coal production and future revenues. If we mine on property that we do not own or lease, we could incur liability for such mining.
In any such case, the investigation and resolution of title issues would divert management’s time from our business and our results of operations could be adversely affected. Additionally, if we lose any leasehold interests relating to any preparation plants, we may need to find an alternative location to process our coal and load it for delivery to customers, which could result in significant unanticipated costs.
In order to obtain leases or mining contracts to conduct our mining operations on property where these defects exist, we may in the future have to incur unanticipated costs. In addition, we may not be able to successfully negotiate new leases or mining contracts for properties containing additional reserves or maintain our leasehold interests in properties where we have not commenced mining operations during the term of the lease. Some leases have minimum production requirements. Failure to meet those requirements could result in losses of prepaid royalties and, in some rare cases, could result in a loss of the lease itself.
Most of our properties, except those controlled by us at or near Knox Creek and a couple of leases at Elk Creek, including our mineral lease with the McDonald Land Company, are leased or subleased to our subsidiaries from entities controlled by Ramaco Coal, LLC, which shares some common ownership with us. Additionally, RAMACO Central Appalachia, LLC and RAMACO Resources, LLC entered into mutual cooperation agreements concerning the Elk Creek property and Berwind coal reserve, requiring each party to notify the other in the event that such party acquires an interest in real property adjacent to or contiguous with the Elk Creek property or Berwind coal reserve, respectively. RAMACO Northern Appalachia, LLC and RAM Mining, LLC entered into a mutual cooperation agreement concerning the RAM Mine property, requiring each party to notify the other in the event that such party acquires an interest in real property in Pennsylvania that contains coal or mining rights. Given the common ownership between Ramaco Coal, LLC and us and the complex contractual obligations under these arrangements, conflicts could arise (including between us and Ramaco Coal, LLC and our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer who is also an owner of Ramaco Coal, LLC). While we have an audit committee and formal related party transaction policy, a conflict may arise which could adversely affect the interests of our stockholders, including, without limitation, conflicts involving compliance with payment and performance obligations under existing leases, and negotiation of the terms of and performance under additional leases we may enter into with Ramaco Coal, LLC or its subsidiaries or affiliates in the future. For example, if a title defect were identified with respect to a property under lease or sublease from our affiliates, we may need to seek return of royalty payments or set off other payments due to such entities. Such a conflict could distract our management and could result in disputes with our affiliates.
We are not subject to any collective bargaining or union agreement with respect to properties we currently control. However, it is possible that future employees, or those of our contract miners, who conduct mining operations may join or seek recognition to form a labor union or may be required to become labor agreement signatories. If some or all of the employees who conduct mining operations were to become unionized, it could adversely affect productivity, increase labor costs and increase the risk of work stoppages at our mines. If a work stoppage were to occur, it could interfere with operations and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Efficient coal mining using modern techniques and equipment requires skilled laborers, preferably with at least a year of experience and proficiency in multiple mining tasks. In the event there is a shortage of experienced labor, it could have an adverse impact on our labor productivity and our ability to expand production in the event there is an increase in the demand for our coal.
Access to international markets may be subject to ongoing interruptions and trade barriers due to policies and tariffs of individual countries, and the actions of certain interest groups to restrict the import or export of certain commodities. There can be no assurance that our access to these markets will not be restricted in the future. An inability for U.S. metallurgical coal suppliers to access international markets would likely result in an oversupply of metallurgical
coal in the domestic market, resulting in a decrease in prices, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Risks Related to Environmental, Health, Safety and Other Regulations
The incoming U.S. administration and Congress could enact legislative and regulatory measures that could adversely affect our mining operations or cost structure or our customers’ ability to use coal, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
The President’s proposed climate plan includes rejoining the Paris climate agreement, as well as a target of achieving carbon-free electricity generation in the United States by 2035 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2050. The plan calls for establishment of technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standards, accompanied by clean energy tax credits and other incentives for utilities and grid operators to generate electricity with renewable energy. Depending upon what legislative and regulatory proposals in pursuit of these targets come into effect, there could be increased pressure on U.S. utilities and power generators to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerating the decline in demand for coal in the United States. In addition, the Biden administration has indicated that it will unwind a number of regulatory rollbacks enacted or proposed by the Trump administration, including, among others, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the proposed rule for the disposal of coal combustion residuals, and the National Environmental Policy Act overhaul, or otherwise impose and enforce more stringent permitting or other requirements, including those relating to reclamation, water quality, water availability and other environmental matters. New, more stringent legislation or regulations related to the protection of the environment, health and safety or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as changes in the interpretation and enforcement of such laws and regulations, may require us or our customers to change operations significantly or incur increased costs, which may adversely affect our mining operations, cost structure or our customers’ ability to use coal. Such changes could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Laws and regulations restricting greenhouse gas emissions as well as uncertainty concerning such regulations could adversely impact the market for coal, increase our operating costs, and reduce the value of our coal assets.
Climate change continues to attract considerable public and scientific attention. There is widespread concern about the contributions of human activity to such changes, especially through the emission of GHGs. There are three primary sources of GHGs associated with the coal industry. First, the end use of our coal by our customers in electricity generation, coke plants, and steelmaking is a source of GHGs. Second, combustion of fuel by equipment used in coal production and to transport our coal to our customers is a source of GHGs. Third, coal mining itself can release methane, which is considered to be a more potent GHG than CO2, directly into the atmosphere. These emissions from coal consumption, transportation and production are subject to pending and proposed regulation as part of initiatives to address global climate change.
As a result, numerous proposals have been made and are likely to continue to be made at the international, national, regional and state levels of government to monitor and limit emissions of GHGs. Collectively, these initiatives could result in higher electric costs to our customers or lower the demand for coal used in electric generation, which could in turn adversely impact our business. They could also result in direct regulation of the GHGs produced by our operations. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters—Global Climate Change.”
At present, we are principally focused on metallurgical coal production, which is not used in connection with the production of power generation. However, we may seek to sell greater amounts of our coal into the power-generation market in the future. The market for our coal may be adversely impacted if comprehensive legislation or regulations focusing on GHG emission reductions are adopted, or if our customers are unable to obtain financing for their operations. The uncertainty over the outcome of litigation challenging the CPP or its replacement, and the extent of future regulation of GHG emissions may inhibit utilities from investing in the building of new coal-fired plants to replace older plants or investing in the upgrading of existing coal-fired plants. Any reduction in the amount of coal consumed by electric power generators as a result of actual or potential regulation of GHG emissions could decrease demand for our coal, thereby reducing our revenues and materially and adversely affecting our business and results of
operations. We or prospective customers may also have to invest in CO2 capture and storage technologies in order to burn coal and comply with future GHG emission standards.
Current and future government laws, regulations and other legal requirements relating to protection of the environment and natural resources may increase our costs of doing business and may restrict our coal operations.
We and our potential customers are subject to stringent and complex laws, regulations and other legal requirements enacted by federal, state and local authorities relating to protection of the environment and natural resources. These include those legal requirements that govern discharges or emissions of materials into the environment, the management and disposal of substances and wastes, including hazardous wastes, the cleanup of contaminated sites, threatened and endangered plant and wildlife protection, reclamation and restoration of mining properties after mining is completed, mitigation and restoration of streams or other waters, the protection of drinking water, assessment of the environmental impacts of mining, monitoring and reporting requirements, the installation of various safety equipment in our mines, remediation of impacts of surface subsidence from underground mining, and work practices related to employee health and safety. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters.” Examples include laws and regulations relating to:
|●||employee health and safety;|
|●||emissions to air and discharges to water;|
|●||plant and wildlife protection, including endangered species protections;|
|●||the reclamation and restoration of properties after mining or other activity has been completed;|
|●||limitations on land use;|
|●||mine permitting and licensing requirements;|
|●||the storage, treatment and disposal of wastes;|
|●||air quality standards;|
|●||protection of human health, plant-life and wildlife, including endangered and threatened species;|
|●||protection of wetlands;|
|●||the discharge of materials into the environment;|
|●||remediation of contaminated soil, surface and groundwater; and|
|●||the effects of operations on surface water and groundwater quality and availability.|
Complying with these environmental and employee health and safety requirements, including the terms of our permits, has had, and will continue to have, a significant effect on our costs of operations. In addition, there is the possibility that we could incur substantial costs as a result of violations of environmental laws, judicial interpretations of or rulings on environmental laws or permits, or in connection with the investigation and remediation of environmental contamination. For example, the EPA and several of the states where we operate have, or intend to, propose revised recommended criteria for discharges of selenium regulated under the CWA, which may be more stringent than current criteria. Any additional laws, regulations and other legal requirements enacted or adopted by federal, state and local authorities, or new interpretations of existing legal requirements by regulatory bodies relating to the protection of the environment, including those related to discharges of selenium, could further affect our costs or limit our operations. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters.”
Our operations may impact the environment or cause exposure to hazardous substances, and our properties may have environmental contamination, which could expose us to significant costs and liabilities.
Our operations currently use hazardous materials and generate limited quantities of hazardous wastes from time to time. Drainage flowing from or caused by mining activities can be acidic with elevated levels of dissolved metals, a condition referred to as "acid mine drainage,” or may include other pollutants requiring treatment. We could become subject to claims for toxic torts, natural resource damages and other damages as well as for the investigation and clean-up of soil, surface water, groundwater, and other media. Such claims may arise, for example, out of conditions at sites that we currently own or operate, as well as at sites that we previously owned or operated, or may acquire. Our liability
for such claims may be joint and several, so that we may be held responsible for more than our share of the contamination or other damages, or for the entire share.
We maintain coal refuse areas and slurry impoundments as necessary. Such areas and impoundments are subject to extensive regulation. Structural failure of a slurry impoundment or coal refuse area could result in extensive damage to the environment and natural resources, such as bodies of water that the coal slurry reaches, as well as liability for related personal injuries and property damages, and injuries to wildlife. If an impoundment were to fail, we could be subject to claims for the resulting environmental contamination and associated liability, as well as for fines and penalties. Our coal refuse areas and slurry impoundments are designed, constructed, and inspected by our company and by regulatory authorities according to stringent environmental and safety standards.
Numerous governmental permits and approvals are required for mining operations. Our operations are principally regulated under permits issued pursuant to SMCRA and the federal CWA. State and federal regulatory authorities exercise considerable discretion in the timing and scope of permit issuance. Requirements imposed by these authorities may be costly and time consuming and may result in delays in the commencement or continuation of exploration or production operations. In addition, we may be required to prepare and present to permitting or other regulatory authorities data pertaining to the effect or impact that proposed exploration for or production of coal might have on the environment.
Our coal production is dependent upon our ability to obtain various federal and state permits and approvals to mine our coal reserves. The permitting rules, and the interpretations of these rules, are complex, change frequently, and are often subject to discretionary interpretations by regulators, all of which may make compliance more difficult or impractical, and which may possibly preclude the continuance of ongoing mine development or operations or the development of future mining operations. The pace with which the government issues permits needed for new operations and for ongoing operations to continue mining, particularly CWA permits, can be time-consuming and subject to delays and denials. These delays or denials of environmental permits needed for mining could reduce our production and materially adversely impact our cash flow and results of operations.
Prior to discharging any pollutants to waters of the United States, coal mining companies must obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES”) permit from the appropriate state or federal permitting authority. NPDES permits include effluent limitations for discharged pollutants and other terms and conditions, including required monitoring of discharges. Changes and proposed changes in state and federally recommended water quality standards may result in the issuance or modification of permits with new or more stringent effluent limits or terms and conditions. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters—Clean Water Act.”
Further, the public has certain statutory rights to comment on and submit objections to requested permits and environmental impact statements prepared in connection with applicable regulatory processes, and otherwise engage in the permitting process, including bringing citizens’ claims to challenge the issuance or renewal of permits, the validity of environmental impact statements or performance of mining activities. As a result of challenges like these, the permits we need may not be issued or renewed in a timely fashion or issued or renewed at all, or permits issued or renewed may not be maintained, may be challenged or may be conditioned in a manner that may restrict our ability to efficiently and economically conduct our mining activities, any of which would materially reduce our production, cash flow, and profitability.
Permitting rules may also require, under certain circumstances, that we obtain surface owner consent if the surface estate has been severed from the mineral estate. This could require us to negotiate with third parties for surface access that overlies coal we acquired or intend to acquire. These negotiations can be costly and time-consuming, lasting years in some instances, which can create additional delays in the permitting process. If we cannot successfully negotiate for land access, we could be denied a permit to mine coal we already own.
Under SMCRA and its state law counterparts, all coal mining applications must include mandatory "ownership and control” information, which generally includes listing the names of our officers and directors, and our principal stockholders owning 10 percent or more of our voting shares, among others. Ownership and control reporting requirements are designed to allow regulatory review of any entities or persons deemed to have ownership or control of a coal mine, and bars the granting of a coal mining permit to any such entity or person (including any "owner and controller”) who has had a mining permit revoked or suspended, or a bond or similar security forfeited within the five-year period preceding a permit application or application for a permit revision. Regulatory agencies also block the issuance of permits to an applicant who, or whose owner and controller, has permit violations outstanding that have not been timely abated.
A federal database, known as the Applicant Violator System, is maintained for this purpose. Certain relationships are presumed to constitute ownership or control, including the following: being an officer or director of an entity; being the operator of the coal mining operation; having the ability to commit the financial or real property assets or working resources of the permittee or operator; based on the instruments of ownership or the voting securities of a corporate entity, owning of record 10% or more of the mining operator, among others. This presumption, in most cases, can be rebutted where the person or entity can demonstrate that it in fact does not or did not have authority directly or indirectly to determine the manner in which the relevant coal mining operation is conducted. An ownership and control notice must be filed by us each time an entity obtains a 10% or greater interest in us. If we have unabated violations of SMCRA or its state law counterparts, have a coal mining permit suspended or revoked, or forfeit a reclamation bond, we and our "owners and controllers,” as discussed above, may be prohibited from obtaining new coal mining permits, or amendments to existing permits, until such violations of law are corrected. This is known as being "permit-blocked.” Additionally, Yorktown and Mr. Atkins are each currently deemed an "owner or controller” of a number of other mining companies; as such, we could be permit-blocked based upon the violations of or permit-blocked status of an "owner or controller” of us. This could adversely affect production from our properties.
We may conduct some underground mining activities on properties that are within the designated boundary of federally protected lands or national forests where the above-mentioned restrictions within the meaning of SMCRA could apply. Federal court decisions could pose a potential restriction on underground mining within 100 feet of a public road as well as other restrictions. If these SMCRA restrictions ultimately apply to underground mining, considerable uncertainty would exist about the nature and extent of this restriction. While it could remain possible to obtain permits for underground mining operations in these areas even where this 100-foot restriction was applied, the time and expense of that permitting process would be likely to increase significantly, and the restrictions placed on the mining of those properties could adversely affect our costs.
Our customers are subject to extensive existing and future government laws, regulations and other legal requirements relating to protection of the environment, which could negatively impact our business and the market for our products.
Coal contains impurities, including sulfur, mercury, chlorine and other elements or compounds, many of which are released into the air when coal is burned. Complying with regulations to address these emissions can be costly for our customers. For example, in order to meet the CAA limits for sulfur dioxide emissions from electric power plants, coal users must install costly pollution control devices, use sulfur dioxide emission allowances (some of which they may purchase), or switch to other fuels. More costly and stringent environmental regulations could adversely impact the operations of our customers, which could in turn adversely impact our business. A number of coal-fired power plants, particularly smaller and older plants, already have retired or announced that they will retire rather than retrofit to meet the obligations of these rules.
In addition, considerable uncertainty is associated with new air emissions initiatives that may require significant emissions control expenditures for many coal-fired power plants. As a result, some of our prospective customers may switch to other fuels that generate fewer of these emissions or may install more effective pollution control equipment
that reduces the need for low-sulfur coal. Any further switching of fuel sources away from coal, closure of existing coal-fired power plants, or reduced construction of new coal-fired power plants could have a material adverse effect on demand for, and prices received for, our coal. In addition, our coke plant and steelmaking customers may face increased operational costs as a result of higher electric costs. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters.”
Apart from actual and potential regulation of air emissions and solid wastes from coal-fired plants, state and federal mandates for increased use of electricity from renewable energy sources could have an impact on the market for our coal. Several states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia, have enacted legislative mandates requiring electricity suppliers to use renewable energy sources to generate a certain percentage of power. Possible advances in technologies and incentives, such as tax credits, to enhance the economics of renewable energy sources could make these sources more competitive with coal. Any reductions in the amount of coal consumed by electric power generators as a result of current or new standards for the emission of impurities, or current or new incentives to switch to renewable fuels or renewable energy sources, such as the ACE rule and various state programs, could reduce the demand for our coal, thereby reducing our revenues and adversely affecting our business, cash flows, results of operations and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Environmental activism and initiatives aimed at limiting climate change and a reduction of air pollutants could interfere with our business activities, operations and ability to access capital sources.
Participants in the coal mining industry are frequently targeted by environmental activist groups that openly attempt to disrupt the industry. For example, Greenpeace International filed a letter with the SEC alleging that one coal mining company’s filings relating to a proposed public offering of securities may contain incomplete and misleading disclosures regarding the risks of investing in the coal market. On another occasion, the Sierra Club sent a letter to the SEC stating that it believed a coal mining company may be giving potential investors false impressions regarding risks to its business. Other groups have objected to our RAM No. 1 mine permit application in Pennsylvania. It is possible that we could continue to be the target of similar actions in the future, including when we attempt to grow our business through acquisitions or commence new mining operations. If that were to happen, our ability to operate our business or raise capital could be materially and adversely impacted.
In addition, there have also been efforts in recent years to influence the investment community, including investment advisors, sovereign wealth funds, public pension funds, universities and other groups, promoting the divestment of fossil fuel equities and also pressuring lenders to limit funding to companies engaged in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves. In California, for example, legislation was signed into law to require the state’s pension funds to divest investments in companies that generate 50% or more of their revenue from coal mining by July 2017.
Several large investment banks also announced that they had adopted climate change guidelines for lenders. The guidelines require the evaluation of carbon risks in the financing of electric power generation plants, which may make it more difficult for utilities to obtain financing for coal-fired plants. In addition, there have also been efforts in recent years affecting the investment community, including investment advisers, sovereign wealth funds, public pension funds, universities and other groups, promoting the divestment of fossil fuel equities, encouraging the consideration of environmental, social and governance ("ESG”) practices of companies in a manner that negatively affects coal companies, and also pressuring lenders to limit funding to companies engaged in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves. The impact of such efforts may adversely affect the demand for and price of securities issued by us, and impact our access to the capital and financial markets. These efforts, as well as concerted conservation and efficiency efforts could cause coal prices and sales of our coal to materially decline and could cause our costs to increase.
Other activist campaigns have urged companies to cease financing coal-driven businesses. A number of investors and asset managers have enacted such policies as a result. For example, in January 2020, an asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets announced that it will begin exiting investments that present high sustainability-related risks, such as thermal coal producers. The impact of such efforts may adversely affect the demand for and price of securities issued by us and impact our access to the capital and financial markets. In addition, several well-funded non-governmental organizations have explicitly undertaken campaigns to minimize or eliminate mining and the use of coal as a source of electricity generation. The net effect of these developments is to make it more costly and difficult to maintain our business and to continue to depress the market for coal.
Our mines are subject to stringent federal and state safety regulations that increase our cost of doing business at active operations and may place restrictions on our methods of operation. In addition, government inspectors in certain circumstances may have the ability to order our operations to be shut down based on safety considerations.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (the "Mine Act”) and Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (the "MINER Act”), and regulations issued under these federal statutes, impose stringent health and safety standards on mining operations. The regulations that have been adopted under the Mine Act and the MINER Act are comprehensive and affect numerous aspects of mining operations, including training of mine personnel, mining procedures, roof control, ventilation, blasting, use and maintenance of mining equipment, dust and noise control, communications, emergency response procedures, and other matters. MSHA regularly inspects mines to ensure compliance with regulations promulgated under the Mine Act and MINER Act. In addition, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia all have similar programs for mine safety and health regulation and enforcement.
The various requirements mandated by federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations may place restrictions on our methods of operation and potentially result in fees and civil penalties for violations of such requirements or criminal liability for the knowing violation of such standards, significantly impacting operating costs and productivity. In addition, government inspectors have the authority to issue orders to shut down our operations based on safety considerations under certain circumstances, such as imminent dangers, accidents, failures to abate violations, and unwarrantable failures to comply with mandatory safety standards. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters—Mine Safety and Health.”
The regulations enacted under the Mine Act and MINER Act as well as under similar state acts are routinely expanded, raising compliance costs and increasing potential liability. These existing and other future mine safety rules could potentially result in or require significant expenditures, as well as additional safety training and planning, enhanced safety equipment, more frequent mine inspections, stricter enforcement practices and enhanced reporting requirements. At this time, it is not possible to predict the full effect that new or proposed statutes, regulations and policies will have on our operating costs, but any expansion of existing regulations, or making such regulations more stringent may have a negative impact on the profitability of our operations. If we were to be found in violation of mine safety and health regulations, we could face penalties or restrictions that may materially and adversely impact our operations, financial results and liquidity.
We must also compensate employees for work-related injuries. State workers’ compensation acts typically provide for an exception to an employer’s immunity from civil lawsuits for workplace injuries in the case of intentional torts. In such situations, an injured worker would be able to bring suit against his or her employer for damages in excess of workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, West Virginia’s workers’ compensation act provides a much broader exception to workers’ compensation immunity, allowing an injured employee to recover against his or her employer if he or she can show damages caused by an unsafe working condition of which the employer was aware and that was a violation of a statute, regulation, rule or consensus industry standard. These types of lawsuits are not uncommon and could have a significant effect on our operating costs.
We have obtained from a third-party insurer a workers’ compensation insurance policy, which includes coverage for medical and disability benefits for black lung disease under the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Mine Act, as amended. We perform periodic evaluations of our black lung liability, using assumptions regarding rates of successful claims, discount factors, benefit increases and mortality rates, among others. Of note, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 significantly amended the black lung provisions of the Mine Act by reenacting two provisions, which had been eliminated in 1981. Under the amendments, a miner with at least fifteen years of underground coal mine employment (or surface mine employment with similar dust exposure) who can prove that he suffers from a totally disabling respiratory condition is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that his disability is caused by black lung. The other amendment provides that the surviving spouse of a miner who was collecting federal black lung benefits at the time of his death is entitled to a continuation of those benefits. These changes could have a material impact on our costs expended in association with the federal black lung program.
We have reclamation, mine closing, and related environmental obligations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. If the assumptions underlying our accruals are inaccurate, we could be required to expend greater amounts than anticipated.
SMCRA establishes operational, reclamation and closure standards for our mining operations. SMCRA requires that comprehensive environmental protection and reclamation standards be met during the course of and following completion of mining activities. Permits for all mining operations must be obtained from the OSMRE or, where state regulatory agencies have adopted federally approved state programs under SMCRA, the appropriate state regulatory authority. Our operations are located in states which have achieved primary jurisdiction for enforcement of SMCRA through approved state programs. See "Business—Environmental and Other Regulatory Matters.”
In December 2016, OSMRE published the final version of the Stream Protection Rule. The rule became effective in January 2017 but was subsequently "disapproved” pursuant to the CRA. The rule would have impacted both surface and underground mining operations by imposing stricter guidelines on conducting coal mining operations within buffer zones and increasing testing and monitoring requirements related to the quality or quantity of surface water and groundwater or the biological condition of streams. The Stream Protection Rule would also have required the collection of increased premining data about the site of the proposed mining operation and adjacent areas to establish a baseline for evaluation of the impacts of mining and the effectiveness of reclamation associated with returning streams to premining conditions.
In addition, SMCRA imposes a reclamation fee on all current mining operations, the proceeds of which are deposited in the AML Fund, which is used to restore unreclaimed and abandoned mine lands mined before 1977. The current per ton fee is $0.28 per ton for surface mined coal and $0.12 per ton for underground mined coal. These fees are currently scheduled to be in effect until September 30, 2021.
We accrue for the costs of current mine disturbance and of final mine closure, including the cost of treating mine water discharge where necessary. The amounts recorded are dependent upon a number of variables, including the estimated future closure costs, estimated proven reserves, assumptions involving profit margins, inflation rates, and the assumed credit-adjusted risk-free interest rates. If these accruals are insufficient or our liability in a particular year is greater than currently anticipated, our future operating results could be adversely affected. We are also required to post bonds for the cost of a coal mine as a condition of our mining activities.
Risks Related to Our Company
Our ability to pay dividends may be limited by the amount of cash we generate from operations following the payment of fees and expenses, by restrictions in any future debt instruments and by additional factors unrelated to our profitability.
We may pay special and regular quarterly dividends in the future. The declaration and payment of dividends, if any, is subject to the discretion of our board of directors and the requirements of applicable law. The timing and amount of any dividends declared will depend on, among other things: (a) our earnings, earnings outlook, financial condition, cash flow, cash requirements and outlook on current and future market conditions, (b) our liquidity, including our ability to obtain debt and equity financing on acceptable terms, (c) restrictive covenants in any future debt instruments and (d) provisions of applicable law governing the payment of dividends.
The metallurgical coal industry is highly volatile, and we cannot predict with certainty the amount of cash, if any, that will be available for distribution as dividends in any period. Also, there may be a high degree of variability from period to period in the amount of cash, if any, that is available for the payment of dividends. The amount of cash we generate from operations and the actual amount of cash we will have available for dividends will vary based upon, among other things:
|●||risks related to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, such as the scope and duration of the outbreak, the health and safety of our employees, government actions and restrictive measures|
|implemented in response, delays and cancellations of customer sales, supply chain disruptions and other impacts to the business, or our ability to execute our business continuity plans;|
|●||the development of our properties into producing coal mines;|
|●||the ability to begin generating significant revenues and operating cash flows;|
|●||the market price for coal;|
|●||overall domestic and global economic conditions, including the supply of and demand for domestic and foreign coal, coke and steel;|
|●||unexpected operational events or geological conditions;|
|●||our ability to enter into agreements governing the sale of coal, which are generally short-term in nature and subject to fluctuations in market pricing;|
|●||the level of our operating costs;|
|●||prevailing global and regional economic and political conditions;|
|●||changes in interest rates;|
|●||the impact of domestic and foreign governmental laws and regulations, including environmental and climate change regulations and regulations affecting the coal mining industry;|
|●||delays in the receipt of, failure to receive, failure to maintain or revocation of necessary governmental permits;|
|●||modification or revocation of our dividend policy by our board of directors; and|
|●||the amount of any cash reserves established by our board of directors.|
The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our net income or loss for the period, which will be affected by non-cash items. We may incur other expenses or liabilities that could reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends.
In addition, any future financing agreements may prohibit the payment of dividends if an event of default has occurred and is continuing or would occur as a result of the payment of such dividends.
In addition, Section 170 of the Delaware General Corporation Law ("DGCL”) allows our board of directors to declare and pay dividends on the shares of our common stock either (i) out of our surplus, as defined in and computed in accordance with the DGCL or (ii) in case there shall be no such surplus, out of our net profits for the fiscal year in which the dividend is declared and/or the preceding fiscal year. We may not have sufficient surplus or net profits in the future to pay dividends, and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient funds, surplus or net profits to make distributions to us. As a result of these and the other factors mentioned above, we can give no assurance that dividends will be paid in the future.
For as long as we are an emerging growth company, we will not be required to comply with certain reporting requirements that apply to other public companies, including those relating to auditing standards and disclosure about our executive compensation.
The JOBS Act contains provisions that, among other things, relax certain reporting requirements for "emerging growth companies,” including certain requirements relating to auditing standards and compensation disclosure. We are classified as an emerging growth company. For as long as we are an emerging growth company, which may be as late as our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022, unlike other public companies, we will not be required to, among other things, (1) provide an auditor’s attestation report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our system of internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, (2) comply with any new requirements adopted by the PCAOB requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report in which the auditor would be required to provide additional information about the audit and the financial statements of the issuer, (3) comply with any new audit rules adopted by the PCAOB after April 5, 2012 unless the SEC determines otherwise or (4) provide certain disclosure regarding executive compensation required of larger public companies.
Our significant stockholders, Yorktown and ECP, collectively own approximately 62% of our common stock, and management and our directors own approximately 15%. As a result, our significant stockholders are able to control matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors, changes to our organizational documents and significant corporate transactions. This concentration of ownership makes it unlikely that any other holder or group of holders of our common stock will be able to affect the way we are managed or the direction of our business. The interests of our significant stockholders with respect to matters potentially or actually involving or affecting us, such as future acquisitions, financings and other corporate opportunities and attempts to acquire us, may conflict with the interests of our other stockholders. Given this concentrated ownership, our significant stockholders would have to approve any potential acquisition of us. In addition, certain of our directors are currently employees of our significant stockholders. These directors’ duties as employees of our significant stockholders may conflict with their duties as our directors, and the resolution of these conflicts may not always be in our or your best interest.
Furthermore, we entered into a stockholders’ agreement with the significant stockholders in connection with our initial public offering. Among other things, the stockholders’ agreement provides certain funds affiliated with and/or managed by Yorktown and ECP with the right to designate a certain number of nominees to our board of directors until the later of (i) the time at which such stockholder no longer has the right to designate an individual for nomination to the board of directors under the stockholders’ agreement, and (ii) the time at which the significant stockholders cease to hold in aggregate at least 50% of the outstanding shares of our common stock.
The existence of a significant stockholder and the stockholders’ agreement may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers, delaying or preventing changes in control or changes in management or limiting the ability of our other stockholders to approve transactions that they may deem to be in our best interests. Our significant stockholders’ concentration of stock ownership may also adversely affect the trading price of our common stock to the extent investors perceive a disadvantage in owning stock of a company with significant stockholders.
Your percentage of ownership in us may be diluted in the future.
Your percentage of ownership in us may be diluted because of equity issuances for acquisitions, capital market transactions or otherwise, including, without limitation, equity awards that we may be granting to our directors, officers and employees. Such issuances may have a dilutive effect on our earnings per share, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
It is anticipated that the compensation committee of the board of directors of the Company will grant additional equity awards to Company employees and directors, from time to time, under the Company’s compensation and employee benefit plans. These additional awards will have a dilutive effect on the Company’s earnings per share, which could adversely affect the market price of the Company’s common stock.
In addition, our Charter authorizes us to issue, without the approval of our stockholders, one or more classes or series of preferred stock having such designation, powers, preferences and relative, participating, optional and other special rights, including preferences over our common stock with respect to dividends and distributions, as our board of directors generally may determine. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock could dilute the voting power or reduce the value of our common stock. For example, we could grant the holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of our directors in all events or on the happening of specified events or to veto specified transactions. Similarly, the repurchase or redemption rights or liquidation preferences we could assign to holders of preferred stock could affect the residual value of our common stock.
Certain of our directors have significant duties with, and spend significant time serving, entities that may compete with us in seeking acquisitions and business opportunities and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in allocating time or pursuing business opportunities.
Certain of our directors, who are responsible for managing the direction of our operations and acquisition activities, hold positions of responsibility with other entities (including Yorktown- and ECP-affiliated entities) that are in the business of identifying and acquiring coal reserves. The existing positions held by these directors may give rise to fiduciary or other duties that are in conflict with the duties they owe to us. These directors may become aware of business opportunities that may be appropriate for presentation to us as well as to the other entities with which they are or may become affiliated. Due to these existing and potential future affiliations, they may present potential business opportunities to other entities prior to presenting them to us, which could cause additional conflicts of interest. They may also decide that certain opportunities are more appropriate for other entities with which they are affiliated, and as a result, they may elect not to present those opportunities to us. These conflicts may not be resolved in our favor.
Further, in addition to his role as our Chairman, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Atkins serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ramaco Coal, LLC and as a director of one of its subsidiaries. Given certain common ownership between Ramaco Coal, LLC and us and the complex contractual obligations under the agreements we have entered into with Ramaco Coal, LLC and its subsidiaries, conflicts could arise between us and Ramaco Coal, LLC and Yorktown, ECP and Mr. Atkins. In addition, a conflict may arise which could adversely affect the interests of our stockholders, including, without limitation, conflicts involving compliance with payment and performance obligations under existing leases, and negotiation of the terms of and performance under additional leases we may enter into with Ramaco Coal, LLC or its subsidiaries or affiliates in the future. For additional discussion of our management’s business affiliations and the potential conflicts of interest of which our stockholders should be aware, see "Certain Relationships and Related Persons Transactions.”
Our significant stockholders and their affiliates are not limited in their ability to compete with us, and the corporate opportunity provisions in our Charter could enable our significant stockholders to benefit from corporate opportunities that might otherwise be available to us.
Our governing documents provide that our significant stockholders (including portfolio investments of our significant stockholders) are not restricted from owning assets or engaging in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us. In particular, subject to the limitations of applicable law, our Charter, among other things:
|●||permits our significant stockholders and any of our officers or directors who are also employees, officers or directors of the significant stockholders to conduct business that competes with us and to make investments in any kind of property in which we may make investments; and|
|●||provides that if our significant stockholders and any of our officers or directors who are also employees, officers or directors of the significant stockholders becomes aware of a potential business opportunity, transaction or other matter, they will have no duty to offer that opportunity to us.|
Our significant stockholders, or any of our officers or directors who are also employees, officers or directors of the significant stockholders, may become aware, from time to time, of certain business opportunities (such as acquisition opportunities) and may direct such opportunities to other businesses in which they have invested, in which case we may not become aware of or otherwise have the ability to pursue such opportunity. Further, such businesses may choose to compete with us for these opportunities, possibly causing these opportunities to not be available to us or causing them to be more expensive for us to pursue. In addition, our significant stockholders, or any of our officers or directors who are also employees, officers or directors of the significant stockholders, may dispose of coal properties or other assets in the future, without any obligation to offer us the opportunity to purchase any of those assets. As a result, our renunciation of our interest and expectancy in any business opportunity that may be from time to time presented to our significant stockholders, or any of our officers or directors who are also employees, officers or directors of the significant stockholders, could adversely impact our business or prospects if attractive business opportunities are procured by such parties for their own benefit rather than for ours.
Each of our significant stockholders has resources greater than we do, which may make it more difficult for us to compete with our significant stockholders with respect to commercial activities as well as for potential acquisitions. We cannot assure you that any conflicts that may arise between us and our minority stockholders, on the one hand, and our significant stockholders, on the other hand, will be resolved in our favor. As a result, competition from our significant stockholders could adversely impact our results of operations.
Our Charter authorizes our board of directors to issue preferred stock without stockholder approval. If our board of directors elects to issue preferred stock, it could be more difficult for a third-party to acquire us. In addition, some provisions of our Charter and Bylaws could make it more difficult for a third-party to acquire control of us, even if the change of control would be beneficial to our stockholders, including:
|●||limitations on the removal of directors;|
|●||limitations on the ability of our stockholders to call special meetings;|
|●||establishing advance notice provisions for stockholder proposals and nominations for elections to the board of directors to be acted upon at meetings of stockholders;|
|●||providing that the board of directors is expressly authorized to adopt, or to alter or repeal our bylaws; and|
|●||establishing advance notice and certain information requirements for nominations for election to our board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at stockholder meetings.|
Our Charter designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents.
Our Charter provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, employees or agents to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the "DGCL”), our Charter or our bylaws, or (iv) any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each such case subject to such Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. This exclusive forum provision does not apply to a cause of action brought under federal or state securities laws. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock will be deemed to have notice of, and consented to, the provisions of our Charter described in the preceding sentence. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and such persons. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our Charter inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
General Risk Factors
Tax legislation in 2017 reduced the U.S. corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and included certain other changes that resulted in a significant reduction of our income tax liability. Congress could, in the future, revise or repeal those changes or enact other tax law changes, such as the elimination of tax preferences currently available with respect to coal exploration and development and the percentage depletion allowance. For example, President Biden has proposed increasing the U.S. corporate income tax rate to 28%. Such changes are potentially more likely under the new Democratic party-controlled Congress. We are unable to predict whether any such changes will ultimately be enacted, but any such changes could have a material impact on our cash tax liabilities, results of operations or financial condition.
Changes in the method of determining the London Interbank Offered Rate, or the replacement of the London Interbank Offered Rate with an alternative reference rate, may adversely affect interest expense related to outstanding debt.
Amounts drawn under our current debt agreements may bear interest at rates based on the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR”). On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. On November 30, 2020, ICE Benchmark Administration ("IBA"), the administrator of LIBOR, with the support of the United States Federal Reserve and the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority, announced plans to consult on ceasing publication of USD LIBOR on December 31, 2021 for only the one week and two month USD LIBOR tenors, and on June 30, 2023 for all other USD Libor tenors. While this announcement extends the transition period to June 2023, the United States Federal Reserve concurrently issued a statement advising banks to stop new USD LIBOR issuances by the end of 2021. In light of these recent announcements, the future of LIBOR at this time is uncertain and any changes in the methods by which LIBOR is determined or regulatory activity related to LIBOR's phaseout could cause LIBOR to perform differently than in the past or cease to exist. Uncertainty as to the nature of such potential phase-out and alternative reference rates or disruption in the financial market could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, current and potential stockholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.
Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports, prevent fraud and operate successfully as a public company. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our reputation and operating results would be harmed. We cannot be certain that our efforts to maintain our internal controls will be successful or that we will be able to comply with our obligations under Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. Any failure to maintain effective internal controls, or difficulties encountered in implementing or improving our internal controls, could harm our operating results or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. Ineffective internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which would likely have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock.
Our future level of debt could have important consequences to us, including the following:
|●||our ability to obtain additional financing, if necessary, for working capital, capital expenditures or other purposes may be impaired, or such financing may not be available on favorable terms;|
|●||our funds available for operations and future business opportunities will be reduced by that portion of our cash flow required to make interest payments on our debt;|
|●||our ability to pay dividends if an event of default occurs and is continuing or would occur as a result of paying such dividend;|
|●||we may be more vulnerable to competitive pressures or a downturn in our business or the economy generally; and|
|●||our flexibility in responding to changing business and economic conditions may be limited.|
Our ability to service our debt will depend upon, among other things, our future financial and operating performance, which will be affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, regulatory and other factors, some of which are beyond our control. If our operating results are not sufficient to service any future indebtedness, we will be forced to take actions such as reducing or delaying our business activities, investments or capital expenditures, selling assets or issuing equity. We may not be able to affect any of these actions on satisfactory terms or at all.
The requirements of being a public company, including compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act”), and the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, may strain our resources, increase our costs and consume management attention, and we may be unable to comply with these requirements in a timely or cost-effective manner.
As a public company, we need to comply with new laws, regulations and requirements, certain corporate governance provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, related regulations of the SEC and the requirements of the NASDAQ, with which we were not required to comply as a private company. Complying with these statutes, regulations and requirements occupies a significant amount of time for our board of directors and management and significantly increases our costs and expenses. We need to:
|●||institute a more comprehensive compliance function;|
|●||comply with rules promulgated by the NASDAQ;|
|●||continue to prepare and distribute periodic public reports in compliance with our obligations under the federal securities laws;|
|●||establish new internal policies, such as those relating to insider trading; and|
|●||involve and retain to a greater degree outside counsel and accountants in the above activities.|
Furthermore, while we generally must comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we are not required to have our independent registered public accounting firm attest to the effectiveness of our internal controls until our first annual report subsequent to our ceasing to be an "emerging growth company” within the meaning of Section 2(a)(19) of the Securities Act. Accordingly, we may not be required to have our independent registered public accounting firm attest to the effectiveness of our internal controls until as late as our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022. Once it is required to do so, our independent registered public accounting firm may issue a report that is adverse in the event it is not satisfied with the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed. Compliance with these requirements may strain our resources, increase our costs and distract management, and we may be unable to comply with these requirements in a timely or cost-effective manner.
In addition, being a public company subject to these rules and regulations may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers.
Our ability to operate effectively could be impaired if we fail to attract and retain key personnel.
The loss of our senior executives could have a material adverse effect on our business. There may be a limited number of persons with the requisite experience and skills to serve in our senior management positions. We may not be able to locate or employ qualified executives on acceptable terms. In addition, as our business develops and expands, we believe that our future success will depend greatly on our continued ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel with coal industry experience. We may not be able to continue to employ key personnel or attract and retain qualified personnel in the future. Our failure to retain or attract key personnel could have a material adverse effect on our ability to effectively operate our business.
The failure to obtain additional customers or the loss of all or a portion of the revenues attributable to any customer as a result of competition, creditworthiness, inability to negotiate extensions or replacement of contracts or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Terrorist attacks or cyber-incidents could result in information theft, data corruption, operational disruption and/or financial loss.
Like most companies, we have become increasingly dependent upon digital technologies, including information systems, infrastructure and cloud applications and services, to operate our businesses, process and record financial and operating data, communicate with our business partners, analyze mine and mining information, estimate quantities of coal reserves, as well as other activities related to our businesses. Strategic targets, such as energy-related assets, may be at greater risk of future terrorist or cyber-attacks than other targets in the United States. Deliberate attacks on, or security breaches in, our systems or infrastructure, or the systems or infrastructure of third parties, including systems that collect, organize, store or use personal data, or cloud-based applications could lead to corruption or loss of our proprietary data and potentially sensitive data, delays in production or delivery, difficulty in completing and settling transactions, challenges in maintaining our books and records, environmental damage, communication interruptions, other operational disruptions and third-party liability. Due to the nature of cyber-attacks, breaches to our or our service or equipment providers’ systems could go unnoticed for a prolonged period of time. Our insurance may not protect us against such occurrences. Consequently, it is possible that any of these occurrences, or a combination of them, could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Further, as cyber incidents continue to evolve, we may be required to expend additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any vulnerability to cyber incidents.
Information technology solution failures, network disruptions and breaches of data security could disrupt our operations by causing delays or canceling or impeding processing of transactions and reporting financial results, resulting in the unintentional disclosure of employee, royalty owner, or other third party or our confidential information, or damage to our reputation. There can be no assurance that a system failure or data security breach will not have a material adverse effect on our operations, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. In addition, new laws and regulations governing data privacy and the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information pose increasingly complex compliance challenges and potentially elevate costs, and any failure to comply with these laws and regulations (or contractual provisions requiring similar compliance) could result in significant penalties and legal liability, require us to change our business practices, increase the costs and complexity of compliance, and adversely affect our business. As noted above, we are also subject to the possibility of cyber incidents or attacks, which themselves may result in a violation of these laws or may result in significant expense.
At December 31, 2020, we owned or controlled, primarily through long-term leases, approximately 113,466 acres of coal minerals in Virginia and West Virginia and 1,570 acres of coal minerals in Pennsylvania. Our preparation plants and loadout facilities are located on properties owned by us or held under leases which expire at varying dates over the next 30 years. Most of the leases contain options to renew.
Our executive headquarters occupies leased office space in Lexington, Kentucky and we lease office space in Charleston, West Virginia as an operations center. See Item 1. "Business—Our Projects” for specific information about our mining operations.
Our Coal Reserves
Reserves are defined by the SEC Industry Guide 7 as that part of a mineral deposit which could be economically and legally extracted or produced at the time of the reserve determination. Reserves are further classified as proven or probable according to the degree of certainty of existence. In determining whether our reserves meet this standard, we take into account, among other things, our potential ability to obtain a mining permit, the possible necessity of revising a mining plan, changes in estimated future costs, changes in future cash flows caused by changes in costs required to be incurred to meet regulatory requirements and obtaining or renewing mining permits, variations in quantity and quality of coal, and varying levels of demand and their effects on selling prices. Further, the economic recoverability of our reserves is based on market conditions including contracted pricing, market pricing and overall demand for our coal. Thus, the actual value at which we no longer consider our reserves to be economically recoverable varies depending on the length of time in which the specific market conditions are expected to last. We consider our reserves to be economically recoverable at a price in excess of our cash costs to mine the coal and fund our ongoing replacement capital. The reserves in this annual report are classified by reliability or accuracy in decreasing order of geological assurance as Proven (Measured) and Probable (Indicated). The terms and criteria utilized to estimate reserves for this study are based on United States Geological Survey Circular 891 and in general accordance with SEC Industry Guide 7, and are summarized as follows:
|●||Proven (Measured) Reserves: Reserves for which (a) quantity is computed from dimensions revealed in outcrops, trenches, workings or drill holes; and grade and/or quality are computed from the results of detailed sampling and (b) the sites for inspection, sampling and measurement are spaced so closely and the geologic character is so well defined that size, shape, depth and mineral content of reserves are well-established.|
|●||Probable (Indicated) Reserves: Reserves for which quantity and grade and/or quality are computed from information similar to that used for proven (measured) reserves, but the sites for inspection, sampling, and measurement are farther apart or are otherwise less adequately spaced. The degree of assurance, although lower than that for proven (measured) reserves, is high enough to assume continuity between points of observation.|
Our coal reserve estimates at December 31, 2020 were prepared by our engineers and geologists. Our coal reserve estimates are based on data obtained from our drilling activities and other available geologic data. Acquisitions or sales of coal properties will change these estimates. Changes in mining methods or the utilization of new technologies may increase or decrease the recovery basis for a coal seam. Periodically, we retain outside experts to independently verify our coal reserve estimates. The most recent studies of our coal reserves at Elk Creek, Knox Creek, Berwind and RAM Mine were prepared by an independent engineering firm, Weir International, Inc. ("Weir”). In periods between third party updates, we update reserves utilizing our internal staff of engineers and geologists based upon production data. We intend to continue to periodically retain outside experts to assist management with the verification of our estimates of our coal reserves going forward.
In our most recent reserve study, Weir began preparing our reserve reporting for compliance with SEC Regulation S-K 1300 requirements, which is required for the first reporting period after December 31, 2021, by completing a historical project review and validating our complete drill hole database. Weir validated that property control is accurately reflected in reserve modeling, verifying the latest property boundaries, including control by each individual seam. Weir also examined reserve boundaries to ensure agreement with mining parameters, such as minimum thickness, minimum yield and minimum inter-burden between seams. Resource classification is determined based on the expectation of our meeting these mining parameters. Weir also conducted mining integrity checks to ensure each area reserve area is minable. For example, a slope calculation was conducted in areas planned to be contour mined. If these areas were too steep, the reserves would be reclassified as unminable and unreportable.
Our reserves available to us by lease or right to lease from Ramaco Coal, LLC are summarized by project in the table below. All reserves listed for our Elk Creek mining complex, Berwind, Knox Creek and RAM Mine properties are controlled by Ramaco Coal, LLC. We lease and sublease approximately 262 million tons of those reserves at our Elk
Creek, Berwind, Knox Creek and RAM Mine properties. In addition, we have the right to lease approximately 63 million additional tons of reserves controlled by Ramaco Coal, LLC, pursuant to mutual cooperation agreements.
Reserves (in millions) (1)
Logan, Wyoming and Mingo Counties, WV
Underground, Highwall, Surface
High Volatile A, A/B, B
CSX RR, Norfolk Southern RR, Truck
McDowell County, WV, Buchanan and Tazewell Counties, VA
Truck, Norfolk Southern RR
Washington County, PA
High Volatile C
Norfolk Southern RR, Truck, Barge
Buchanan, Tazewell and Russell Counties, VA
High Volatile A
Truck, Norfolk Southern RR
|(1)||Reserves, presented as clean recoverable tons, are based upon 50% underground mining recovery, theoretical preparation plant yield at appropriate specific gravities and 95% preparation plant efficiency. Assessments of economic mineability were determined using metallurgical coal sales prices based on the three-year historical benchmark price for high volatile A/B coking of approximately $112 per short ton for coal produced at Elk Creek, RAM and Knox Creek and the three-year average low volatile coking coal historical benchmark price of approximately $116 per short ton for coal produced at Berwind.|
|(2)||Volatiles refers to the volatile matter contained in the coal. Classification of coal as low, mid or high volatile refers to the specific volatile content within the coal, with coals of 17% to 22% volatiles being classified as low volatile, 23% to 31% as mid volatile and 32% or greater as high volatile. The amount of volatile matter in coal impacts coke yield—the amount of coke and coke by-products produced per ton of coal charged. Low volatile coal contains more carbon, but too much carbon can result in coke oven damage. Too much volatile matter results in less carbon and reduces the volume of coke produced. Therefore, coke producers use blends of high volatile and low volatile coals for coke production. Totals may not sum due to rounding.|
|(3)||The potential Jawbone underground mine would have a 10-15 year life.|
These reserve estimates were assessed based on benchmark coal sales pricing at the time of reserve reporting for each property. Utilizing the three-year average high volatile A/B coking coal historical benchmark price of approximately $112 per short ton for coal produced at Elk Creek, RAM and Knox Creek, our mineral reserves at each such mines are economic. Utilizing a three-year average low volatile coking coal historical benchmark price of approximately $114 per short ton, our mineral reserves at our Berwind mine are projected to be economic when we reach our targeted coal reserve in the Pocahontas No.4 Seam, which we plan to achieve once market conditions permit us to resume and complete our Berwind mine development plans.
Year-end reserve estimates are and will continue to be reviewed by our senior management, and revisions are communicated to our board of directors. Inaccuracies in our estimates of our coal reserves could result in decreased profitability from lower than expected revenue or higher than expected costs. Actual production recovered from identified reserve areas and properties, and revenue and expenditures associated with our mining operations, may vary materially from estimates.
Due to the nature of our business, we may become, from time to time, involved in routine litigation or subject to disputes or claims related to our business activities. In the opinion of our management, there are no pending litigation, disputes or claims against us which, if decided adversely, will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition,
cash flows or results of operations. For a description of our legal proceedings, see "Commitments and Contingencies,” Note 10 to the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
The information concerning mine safety violations or other regulatory matters required by Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Item 104 of Regulation S-K is included in Exhibit 95.1 to this annual report.
Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "METC.”
Holders. As of the close of business on February 15, 2021, there were forty-four holders of record of our common stock. Because many of our common shares are held by brokers and other institutions on behalf of stockholders, we are unable to estimate the total number of stockholders represented by these holders of record.
Dividends. We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock. See Item 7 of Part II, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
On February 8, 2017, in connection with the closing of our initial public offering, we completed a corporate reorganization pursuant to which all the interests in Ramaco Development, LLC ("Ramaco Development”), our accounting predecessor, were exchanged for newly issued shares of common stock of Ramaco Resources and as a result, Ramaco Development became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ramaco Resources. As such, the financial information presented below for the periods through February 8, 2017 pertains to the historical financial statements and results of operations of Ramaco Development.
The selected historical consolidated financial data for the remaining periods were derived from our audited historical consolidated financial statements. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Please read the following table in conjunction with "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operations,” the historical consolidated financial statements of our predecessor and accompanying notes included elsewhere in this annual report.
Years Ended December 31,
Income Statement data:
Cost and expenses
Cost of sales (exclusive of items shown separately below)
Other operating costs and expenses
Asset retirement obligation accretion
Depreciation and amortization
Selling, general and administrative
Total cost and expenses
Operating income (loss)
Interest expense, net
Income (loss) before tax
Income tax expense (benefit)
Net income (loss)
Basic earnings (loss) per share
Diluted earnings (loss) per share
Cash Flow Data:
Cash flows from operating activities
Cash flows from investing activities
Cash flows from financing activities
Net change in cash and cash equivalents
Total tons sold
Balance Sheet Data:
Cash and cash equivalents
Property, plant and equipment – net
Current maturities of long-term debt
Long-term debt, less current portion
Other long-term obligations
Total stockholders' equity
The following discussion is intended to assist you in understanding our results of operations and our present financial condition and contains forward-looking statements that reflect our future plans, estimates, beliefs and expected performance. The forward-looking statements are dependent upon events, risks and uncertainties that may be outside our control. We caution you that our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences are discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report, particularly in the "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and "Risk Factors,” all of which are difficult to predict. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed may not occur. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements except as otherwise required by applicable law.
Our primary source of revenue is the sale of metallurgical coal. We have a 262 million ton reserve base of high-quality metallurgical coal and a development portfolio including four primary properties. Our plan is to continue development of our existing properties and grow production to 4-4.5 million clean tons of metallurgical coal, subject to market conditions, permitting and additional capital deployment. We may make acquisitions of reserves or infrastructure that continue our focus on advantaged geology and lower costs.
During 2020, we sold 1.75 million tons of coal. Of this, 71% was sold in North American markets and 29% was sold in export markets, excluding Canada, principally to Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. We also purchase coal from third parties for sale for our own account; although, these volumes decreased in 2019 and 2020. Sales of higher margin Company produced coal made up 99% of total sales in 2020 as compared with 96% in 2019.
The overall outlook of the metallurgical coal business is dependent on a variety of factors such as pricing, regulatory uncertainties and global economic conditions. Coal consumption and production in the U.S. is driven by several market dynamics and trends including the U.S. and global economies, the U.S. dollar’s strength relative to other currencies and accelerating production cuts.
Metallurgical coal markets weakened significantly during 2020 due to the on-going severe global economic slowdown stemming from COVID-19 outbreak. The global spread of COVID-19 has created significant market volatility and economic uncertainty and disruption since early-2020. In response to the pandemic, governments worldwide have placed significant restrictions on both domestic and international travel and have taken action to restrict the movement of people and suspend some business operations, ranging from targeted restrictions to full national lockdowns. These lockdowns, restrictions on public gatherings and stay-at-home measures, coupled with the spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in a significant worldwide economic slowdown. In certain cases, states that had begun taking steps to reopen their economies experienced a subsequent surge in cases of COVID-19, causing these states to cease such reopening measures in some cases and reinstitute restrictions in others. The COVID-19 pandemic may significantly worsen in the United States during the upcoming months, which may cause federal, state and local governments to reconsider imposing more severe restrictions on business and social activities. In the event governments impose such restrictions, the re-opening of the economy may be further delayed.
The Company has been adversely affected by the deterioration and increased uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment as a result of the impact of COVID-19. In 2020, two customers notified us that their contractual obligations to purchase metallurgical coal from us would be delayed or curtailed because of COVID-19. These delays or curtailments reduced our total contracted sales volumes for 2020 by approximately 10% or almost 200,000 tons.
We took certain actions to limit our production and reduce capital expenditures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced global demand for metallurgical coal. These included:
|●||an operational furlough of approximately 182 employees at the Elk Creek mining complex in West Virginia for most of the month of April 2020;|
|●||a one-week operational furlough of approximately 157 employees at the Elk Creek mining complex in July 2020;|
|●||the partial closure of our Berwind low volatile development mine complex affecting approximately 44 employees effective in July 2020; and|
|●||a reduction or deferral of non-essential capital expenditures, including cessation of the slope project at the Berwind mining complex to adapt to the current market conditions.|
To date we have not had significant issues with any of our critical suppliers, but we continue to communicate with them and closely monitor their developments to ensure we have access to the goods and services required to maintain our operations.
We continue to actively monitor the situation and may take further actions altering our business operations if we determine they are in the best interests of our employees, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders, or as required by federal, state, or local authorities. Additional measures we may take could include extensions of operational furloughs, temporary salary reductions for certain executives, staffing reductions and idling or realignment of additional mines as conditions dictate. It is not clear what potential effects any such alterations or modifications may have on our business. The impact on our results in future periods could be much more significant and cannot currently be quantified.
The annual contracting season with North American steel producers generally occurs in late-summer through the fall. As of December 31, 2020, we had entered into forward sales contracts with certain North American customers for 2021 on a fixed price basis for 1.3 million tons of metallurgical coal at an average realizable price of $84/ton FOB mine. This level of pricing in 2021 is lower than we realized in 2020 and is due to a combination of factors, including the impact of COVID-19 discussed above, lower year-over-year steel prices, changes in types of coal qualities purchased by customers in 2021 and general economic concerns in the United States. We anticipate placing a greater percentage of our overall sales in the spot markets in 2021.
In 2020, our capital expenditures totaled approximately $24.8 million, down from $45.7 million in 2019. We continued to invest in infrastructure and mine equipment at our Elk Creek mining complex, primarily related to increasing our long-term refuse disposal. In 2020, we suspended development at the Berwind mining complex due to lower pricing and demand largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This complex remains a key part of our anticipated future growth.
On November 5, 2018, one of our three raw coal storage silos that fed our Elk Creek plant experienced a partial structural failure. A temporary conveying system completed in late-November 2018 restored approximately 80% of our plant capacity. We completed a permanent belt workaround and restored the preparation plant to its full processing capacity in mid-2019. Our insurance carrier disputed our claim for coverage based on certain exclusions to the applicable policy and therefore on August 21, 2019, we filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the partial silo collapse was an insurable event and to require coverage under our policy. Please see "Commitments and Contingencies,” Note 10 to the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of this matter.
Results of Operations
Years ended December 31,
Consolidated statement of operations data
Costs and expenses
Cost of sales (exclusive of items shown separately below)
Asset retirement obligation accretion
Depreciation and amortization
Selling, general and administrative
Total costs and expenses
Operating income (loss)
Interest expense, net
Income (loss) before tax
Income tax expense (benefit)
Net income (loss)
Adjusted EBITDA was $18.5 million in 2020, which was 67% below that for 2019. We sold 1.75 million tons of Company produced tons at realized pricing of $85/ton in 2020. In 2019, we sold 1.9 million tons of Company produced tons at realized pricing of $109/ton. The decrease in EBITDA is principally due to lower pricing and volumes sold in 2020.
Year Ended December 31, 2020 compared to Year Ended December 31, 2019
Revenue. Our revenue includes sales to customers of Company produced coal and coal purchased from third parties. We include amounts billed by us for transportation to our customers within revenue and transportation costs incurred within cost of sales.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, we had revenue of $168.9 million from the sale of 1.75 million tons of coal including 0.03 million tons of purchased coal. During 2019, we sold 1.95 million tons of coal including 0.08 million tons of purchased coal for total revenue of $230.2 million.
Coal sales information is summarized as follows:
Years ended December 31,
Coal sales revenue
Purchased from Third Parties
Coal sales revenue
Metallurgical coal pricing and demand weakened significantly in mid- to late-2019 coinciding with the time that annual contracts for 2020 shipments of North American metallurgical coal were being entered. Because of this, we contracted for fewer tons to domestic markets under annual contracts in 2020 as compared with 2019. Modestly higher volumes were planned for sale in the spot market during 2020 as compared with 2019. The aforementioned weakness in spot market demand and pricing, principally attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, limited our overall sales results in 2020.
Cost of sales. Our cost of sales totaled $145.5 million for 2020 as compared to $162.5 million for 2019. The total cash cost per ton sold (FOB mine) during 2020 was approximately $72 for Company produced coal as compared with $73 for 2019. The cost of sales for coal we purchased from third parties declined to $1.6 million in 2020 from $8.9 million in 2019.
Asset retirement obligation accretion. Our asset retirement obligation ("ARO”) accretion was $0.6 million for 2020 as compared to $0.5 million for 2019.
Depreciation and amortization. Depreciation of our plant and equipment totaled $17.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared with $14.2 million for the previous year. Higher depreciation expense for 2020 was principally due to the increase in employment of additional mining equipment. Amortization of capitalized development costs totaled $3.8 million in 2020 as compared with $5.3 million for the previous year. The decrease in amortization of development costs in 2020 was driven by lower coal production from our properties and the full amortization of certain preparation plant assets in 2019.
Selling, general and administrative expenses. Selling, general and administrative expenses were $21.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared with $18.2 million for 2019. This increase reflects the growth of our organization including higher fees for professional services.
Other income. Other income was $11.9 million for 2020 and $1.8 million in 2019. We recognized $8.4 million of other income during 2020 for the anticipated full forgiveness of the $8.4 million loan (the "PPP Loan”) we received pursuant to the Paycheck Protection Program based on our usage of loan proceeds for eligible payroll expenses, lease, interest and utility payments. Other income also includes third-party royalty income and rail rebates received, each of which increased modestly in 2020.
Interest expense, net. Interest expense, net was approximately $1.2 million in 2020, which was approximately equal that of the prior year.
Income tax expense. We recognized an income tax benefit of $3.5 million in 2020 as compared with income tax expense of $5.2 million in 2019. The income tax benefit for 2020 includes $1.8 million of benefit associated with the recognition of other income for the anticipated PPP Loan forgiveness. In December 2020, the President signed new legislation making the PPP Loan forgiveness income tax free. Excluding this impact, our effective tax rate was 20.4% for 2020, compared to 17.2% for 2019. The primary difference from the statutory rate of 21% is related to permanent differences for state income taxes, non-deductible expenses and the difference in depletion expense between U.S. GAAP and federal income tax purposes.
Year Ended December 31, 2019 compared to Year Ended December 31, 2018
Please see Part I, Item 7, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in our 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of the results of operation for the year ended December 31, 2019 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2018.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Adjusted EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA is used as a supplemental non-GAAP financial measure by management and external users of our financial statements, such as industry analysts, investors, lenders and rating agencies. We believe Adjusted EBITDA is useful because it allows us to more effectively evaluate our operating performance.
We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income plus net interest expense, stock-based compensation, depreciation and amortization expenses and any transaction related costs. A reconciliation of net income to Adjusted EBITDA is included below. Adjusted EBITDA is not intended to serve as an alternative to U.S. GAAP measures of performance and may not be comparable to similarly-titled measures presented by other companies.
Years ended December 31,
Reconciliation of Net Income (Loss) to Adjusted EBITDA
Net income (loss)
Depreciation and amortization
Interest expense, net
Accretion of asset retirement obligation
Non-GAAP revenue per ton. Non-GAAP revenue per ton (FOB mine) is calculated as coal sales revenue less transportation costs, divided by tons sold. We believe revenue per ton (FOB mine) provides useful information to investors as it enables investors to compare revenue per ton we generate against similar measures made by other publicly-traded coal companies and more effectively monitor changes in coal prices from period to period excluding the impact of transportation costs which are beyond our control. The adjustments made to arrive at these measures are significant in understanding and assessing our financial condition. Revenue per ton sold (FOB mine) is not a measure of financial performance in accordance with U.S. GAAP and therefore should not be considered as an alternative to revenue under U.S. GAAP.
Year ended December 31, 2020
Year ended December 31, 2019
(In thousands, except per ton amounts)
Less: Adjustments to reconcile to Non-GAAP revenue (FOB mine)
Non-GAAP revenue (FOB mine)
Revenue per ton sold (FOB mine)
Non-GAAP cash cost per ton sold. Non-GAAP cash cost per ton sold is calculated as cash cost of sales less transportation costs, divided by tons sold. We believe cash cost per ton sold provides useful information to investors as it enables investors to compare our cash cost per ton against similar measures made by other publicly-traded coal companies and more effectively monitor changes in coal cost from period to period excluding the impact of transportation costs which are beyond our control. The adjustments made to arrive at these measures are significant in understanding and assessing our financial condition. Cash cost per ton sold is not a measure of financial performance in accordance with U.S. GAAP and therefore should not be considered as an alternative to cost of sales under U.S. GAAP.
Year ended December 31, 2020
Year ended December 31, 2019
(In thousands, except per ton amounts)
Cost of sales
Less: Adjustments to reconcile to Non-GAAP cash cost of sales
Non-GAAP cash cost of sales
Cash cost per ton sold
2021 Sales Commitments
As of December 31, 2020, we had entered into forward sales contracts with North American customers for 2021 on a fixed price basis for 1.3 million tons at an average realizable price of $84/ton FOB mine. These volumes were all metallurgical quality coal.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Our primary source of cash is proceeds from the sale of our coal production to customers. Our primary uses of cash include the cash costs of coal production, capital expenditures, royalty payments and other operating expenditures.
Cash flow information is as follows:
Years Ended December 31,
Consolidated statement of cash flow data:
Cash flows from operating activities
Cash flows from investing activities
Cash flows from financing activities
Net change in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash
Cash flows from operating activities during 2020 decreased from the comparable period of the prior year primarily resulting from lower cash earnings and reduced amounts required for working capital (receivables, inventories and accounts payable).
Net cash used in investing activities, all of which was used for capital expenditures, was $24.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared with $45.7 million for 2019.
Cash flows from financing activities were $11.3 million for 2020, which was primarily due to net borrowings during the period and proceeds from the PPP Loan. Cash flows from financing activities were $2.8 million for 2019, which was due to net proceeds from short term borrowings.
Restricted cash balances at December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $1.4 million and $1.3 million, respectively, consisted of funds held in escrow for potential future workers’ compensation claims and were classified in other current assets in the consolidated balance sheets.
Revolving Credit Facility and Term Loan—On November 2, 2018, we entered into a Credit and Security Agreement (as amended, the "Revolving Credit Facility”) with KeyBank National Association ("KeyBank”). The Revolving Credit Facility was amended on February 20, 2020, and consists of a $10.0 million term loan (the "Term Loan”) and up to $30.0 million revolving line of credit, including $3.0 million letter of credit availability. All personal property assets, including, but not limited to accounts receivable, coal inventory and certain mining equipment are pledged to secure the Revolving Credit Facility.
The Revolving Credit Facility has a maturity date of December 31, 2023 and bears interest based on LIBOR + 2.0% or Base Rate + 1.5%. Base Rate is the highest of (i) KeyBank’s prime rate, (ii) Federal Funds Effective Rate + 0.5%, or (iii) LIBOR + 2.0%. Advances under the Revolving Credit Facility are made initially as base rate loans, but may be converted to LIBOR rate loans at certain times at our discretion. As of December 31, 2020, $7.0 million was outstanding on the Revolving Credit Facility and we had remaining availability of $16.7 million.
The Term Loan is secured under a Master Security Agreement with a pledge of certain underground and surface mining equipment, bears interest at LIBOR + 5.15% and is required to be repaid in monthly installments of $278 thousand including accrued interest. The outstanding principal balance of the Term Loan was $6.7 million at December 31, 2020.
The Revolving Credit Facility contains usual and customary covenants including limitations on liens, additional indebtedness, investments, restricted payments, asset sales, mergers, affiliate transactions and other customary limitations, as well as financial covenants. As of December 31, 2020, we were in compliance with all debt covenants.
Equipment Financing Loan—On April 16, 2020, we entered into an equipment loan with Key Equipment Finance, a division of KeyBank, as lender, in the principal amount of approximately $4.7 million for the financing of existing underground and surface equipment. The equipment loan bears interest at 7.45% per annum and is payable in 36 monthly installments of $147 thousand. There is a 3% premium for prepayment of the note within the first 12 months.
This premium declines by 1% during each successive 12-month period. The outstanding principal balance of the Equipment Financing Loan was $3.8 million at December 31, 2020.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan— On April 20, 2020, we received proceeds from a PPP Loan in the amount of approximately $8.4 million from KeyBank, as lender, pursuant to the PPP of the CARES Act. The purpose of the PPP is to encourage the continued employment of workers. Based upon receipt of this funding, we elected to recall our furloughed workers at our Elk Creek complex. We used all proceeds from the PPP Loan to retain employees, maintain payroll and make lease, interest and utility payments.
The PPP Loan matures on April 16, 2022 and bears interest at a rate of 1% per annum. Pursuant to the subsequently enacted Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020, we are permitted to defer required monthly payments of principal and interest until such time as an approval or denial of forgiveness is received from the SBA.
The PPP Loan is evidenced by a promissory note dated April 16, 2020, which contains customary events of default relating to, among other things, payment defaults and breaches of representations and warranties. The PPP Loan may be prepaid by the Company at any time prior to maturity with no prepayment penalties.
All or a portion of the PPP Loan and accrued interest thereon may be forgiven by the SBA upon documentation of expenditures in accordance with the SBA requirements and proper application by the Company. Under the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020, loan forgiveness is available for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered rent payments, covered mortgage interest and covered utilities during either the eight week period or 24-week period beginning on the date of loan funding. For purposes of the PPP Loan, payroll costs exclude cash compensation of an individual employee in excess of $100 thousand, prorated annually. Not more than 40% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. Forgiveness could be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages for employees with salaries of $100 thousand or less annually are reduced by more than 25%.
Our application for forgiveness was approved by KeyBank and is currently being reviewed by the SBA. We anticipate that the full amount of the PPP Loan principal, together with accrued interest thereon, will be forgiven. Accordingly, we recognized $8.4 million as other income in the consolidated statement of operations for 2020.
Refer to Notes 6 and 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of Part I in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information on indebtedness.
As of December 31, 2020, our available liquidity was $22.0 million, comprised of cash and availability under our Revolving Credit Facility. We expect to fund our capital and liquidity requirements with cash on hand, borrowings discussed above and projected cash flow from operations. Factors that could adversely impact our future liquidity and ability to carry out our capital expenditure program include the following:
|●||Timely delivery of our product by rail and other transportation carriers;|
|●||Timely payment of accounts receivable by our customers;|
|●||Cost overruns in our purchases of equipment needed to complete our mine development plans;|
|●||Delays in completion of development of our various mines which would reduce the coal we would have available to sell and our cash flow from operations; and|
|●||Adverse changes in the metallurgical coal markets that would reduce the expected cash flow from operations.|
Our primary use of cash includes capital expenditures for mine development and for ongoing operating expenses. During 2020 we spent $24.8 million primarily for the purchase of mining equipment, infrastructure and development of mines at our Elk Creek and Berwind mining complexes. We anticipate capital expenditures of approximately $15 million in 2021, with the potential to increase this amount depending on market conditions.
As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, management believes that current cash on hand, cash flow from operations and available liquidity under our Revolving Credit Facility will be sufficient to meet its capital expenditure and operating plans. We expect to fund any new reserve acquisitions from cash on hand, cash from operations and potential future issuances of debt or equity securities.
If future cash flows are insufficient to meet our liquidity needs or capital requirements, we may reduce our expected level of capital expenditures and/or fund a portion of our capital expenditures through the issuance of debt or equity securities, the entry into debt arrangements or from other sources, such as asset sales.
The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2020:
Payments due by period
1 – 3
3 – 5
More than 5
Minimum royalty obligations
Asset retirement obligations, discounted
Take or pay obligations