A U.S. coal miner that’s seen its shares plunge 93 percent this year and its debt rated as junk just enjoyed the biggest intraday rally in almost 20 years.
Call it the Trump bump. The U.S. Interior Department has signed off on an expansion of one of Westmoreland Coal Co.’s mines in Montana that could unlock 60 million tons of coal production, according to the Associated Press. The Douglas County company’s shares skyrocketed as much as 49 percent, the most since 1998. They closed at $1.29 in New York Tuesday. Shares traded in the $40 range In November 2014.
It was a rare rally for a miner that has struggled for most of the year to stay afloat despite President Donald Trump’s vows to help rescue the coal sector. S&P Global Ratings warned in November that the company would probably trigger defaults over the next year. The Rosebud mine that the Associated Press said was approved for an expansion sends almost all of its coal to a nearby power plant that environmentalists have been fighting to shut down.
Westmoreland and the Department of the Interior didn’t respond to phone and email requests for comment on the reported approval.
Rosebud produced 8.8 million tons in 2016 and was on a similar pace through Sep. 30 this year, according to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data.