Founder of Murray Energy Corp. and former SME president Robert Murray dies at age 80

October 26, 2020

Robert Murray, founder and chairman of Murray Energy Corp., and former SME president died on Sunday morning at the age of 80.

Murray worked in a series of coal executive roles before starting his Murray Energy Corp. in 1988, with the purchase of a single continuous mining operation with an annual output of 907 kt (1 million st). Murray Energy Corp. then embarked on a strategy of buying high-sulfur coal reserves with the goal of becoming the primary low-cost producer in coal regions. Murray Energy eventually purchased the former Consolidated Coal holdings in West Virginia and grew to be the nation’s largest privately held coal company, producing about 48 Mt (53 million st) of high-quality bituminous coal in 2018, Fox Business reported.

Murray Energy Corp. recently emerged from federal bankruptcy protection under the name of American Consolidated Natural Resource Holdings Inc., with its Chapter 11 plan becoming effective in September. It remains the largest U.S. coal operator with active mines in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Utah. Murray announced his retirement as board chairman less than a week before his death.

Michael Shaheen, an attorney who had recently been representing Murray, confirmed the Sunday morning death of the 80-year-old in St. Clairsville to The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register.

No official cause of death was given. Public reports recently stated Murray applied for black lung benefits with the U.S. Department of Labor. The application said Murray was heavily dependent on oxygen.

Shaheen said a private memorial service for Murray was scheduled for Tuesday

“Saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Murray,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia tweeted. “He was a staunch ally for coal miners, a good friend, and a one of a kind person.”

Murray was dedicated supporter of the coal industry and of SME. He served as SME President in 1989 and in 2017, the Robert E. Murray Innovation Award was established by SME to recognize individuals or organizations who advance the mining industry through the implementation of technical innovation. Its primary focus is to award operations or organizations that are changing the mining industry through the inclusion or adaptation of cutting edge technologies and innovative processes. It will recognize an organization or individual that has implemented a new technology, or approach that has seen their idea come to fruition within the past five years.

When announcing his retirement, Murray described pride in his life’s work, including the fights.

“Throughout my life in and about coal mines and in our industry, I have given all that I had to our employees and their families to sustain their family livelihoods and jobs for the hardworking people in our mining communities,” Murray stated.

“I tried to put my faith and our families first so that we could build the best possible coal company in Murray Energy Corp.



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