Hartshorne Mining Group, a subsidiary of Paringa Resources and operator of the Poplar Grove mine in McLean County, will close the mine sometime next week, according to McLean County Judge-Executive Curtis Dame.

Dame said he was made aware of the closure by current employees of the Poplar Grove mine who have contacted him. He said he has reached out to the mining company but has not received a response as of Thursday afternoon.

Dame said the biggest immediate loss is $125,000 to $200,000 in occupational tax revenue and net profit fees for the county.

However, the county will still be eligible to receive coal severance monies as a coal impact county for up to five years, he said. The county had previously estimated receiving about $520,000 in coal money with an active mine for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

“It’s going to be a negative impact. You know, any time you take revenue like that away, that hurts, but we’re trying to make the best out of it,” Dame said.

Paringa has released multiple announcements since December regarding production difficulties and its efforts to sell the mine and its assets. In December, the company announced it had experienced geographical faults at the mine that hindered production and set the company back financially.

In February, the company sent letters out to employees stating it would cut operations in half, effectively terminating 44 employees, according to a March quarterly report released by Paringa.

“The company has determined that it is no longer able to continue operating the mine at its current capacity and will therefore transition from operating with two mining units to one mining unit,” the letter stated.

The change, according to the report, increased performance at the mine between Feb. 18 to March 31.

Several days after the letter was sent out to employees, Paringa announced that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy while it continued its efforts to sell the mine. The mine was able to continue operations during bankruptcy filings, the announcement stated.

And according to a report from Tribeca Global Natural Resources, a lender for Hartshorne’s operations, the company did not receive any qualified bids for the mine and its assets, citing a significant drop in coal demand due to restricted domestic and international travel as a result of COVID-19, as well as a decrease in oil and natural gas prices.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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