Largest US mining firm Peabody Energy close to bankruptcy

coal mine Image copyright Getty Images

The largest coal mining firm in the US - Peabody Energy - is considering filing for bankruptcy protection, the company said on Wednesday.

Peabody missed a $71m (£50m) debt payment and has invoked its 30-day grace period to avoid defaulting.

The company said it had enough funds for now, but "may need to voluntarily seek protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code".

In January, the second-biggest US coal miner, Arch Coal, went into bankruptcy.

The coal mining industry in the US has been hit hard by mounting regulation and competition from natural gas and cleaner energy suppliers.

Peabody Energy had $6.3bn in debt at the end of 2015 and made a $2bn loss as coal prices fell.

Its share price fell more than 44% on Wednesday.

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