A West Virginia Federal Bankruptcy judge on Tuesday allowed the sale of Blackjewel LLC to Contura Energy to move forward.

Contura will purchase the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming's Powder River Basin along with the Pax Mine in Scarbro, W. Va. for $33.75 million if the deal goes through.

All that remains for the sale to be finalized is Contura and the federal government coming to terms on royalties and leasing conditions.

The hearing, which lasted the better part of two days, concluded Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday's ruling means hundreds of workers in the Powder River Basin are a step closer to returning to work after the two mines sat idle for more than a month.

The proposed sale comes after an auction process that went into the weekend. Contura was initially a stalking horse bidder in the case and had anted up $20 million to pay for the auction. By the end of the weekend, however, Contura had anted $33.75 million.

Judge Frank Volk also approved the sale of Blackjewel's remaining assets in the eastern US for $59.44 million to various companies.

"[The federal governemtn] is a fact, rather we like it or not, may be the party that stands between the sale closing," Stephen Lerner, an attorney representing Blackjewel said.

Contura operated the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines until late 2017 before selling them to Blackjewel.

The final hearing in the matter is set for Wednesday in which Volk will review the proposed order. Should Volk approve the order, hundreds of miners in Wyoming will return to work.

Throughout the two-day hearing, Volk heard from attorneys representing several Blackjewel creditors. Despite the objections, Volk still went forward with the motion.


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