Robert Murray Retires as ACNR Chairman, Ends 63-Year Career
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Late Monday, Robert Murray, longtime president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., announced his retirement as chairman of the board of directors of American Consolidated Natural Resource Holdings Inc., bringing to a close a 63-year career that saw Murray rise to become coal’s most powerful advocate.
A new company, ACNR Holdings was formed to acquire the former Murray Energy Corp. when it emerged from bankruptcy several months ago. Murray served as its first chairman after agreeing to step down from his leadership roles at Murray Energy as part of the bankruptcy process.
Murray describes himself as a “coal miner, mining engineer, company founder, job creator, and philanthropist.”
Prior to bankruptcy, Murray Energy was the largest independent coal mining operation in the nation, employing thousands of people in a number of states.
“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 said. “I tried to put my faith and our families first so that we could build the best possible coal company in Murray Energy Corp. …
“As the acquirer of substantially all of Murray Energy’s assets, ACNR is the best positioned thermal and metallurgical coal company in the world to confront the current threats to reliable, low-cost, fossil-fueled electricity. … I wish the leadership and employees of this great company tremendous success in meeting the energy needs of our country.”
For years, Murray invested in coal mining when other energy companies instead moved toward natural gas and renewables. Murray Energy purchased the former Consolidated Coal holdings in West Virginia about a decade ago, and the company also had assets in Illinois, Utah and other states.
“No one has been more devoted to the industry and ACNR’s business than Mr. Murray. When others shied away from the industry, he dug in and worked hard …” said Rob Moore, ACNR’s president and CEO. “We will always appreciate Mr. Murray for all he has done, and in recognition of that he has been named chairman emeritus.”
Murray began his career in the mines at age 17. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering at Ohio State University, he went to work for the North American Coal Corp., where he rose to the post of president and CEO in 1983.
He founded Murray Energy Corp. in 1988, buying the local assets of North American Coal and putting into place a plan for his company’s long-term viability through agreements with regional power suppliers. Murray Energy became the lowest-cost producer of coal in any sourcing region by aggregating the lowest-cost reserves near its customers.
Along with becoming a leader in the coal industry — Murray Energy developed extensive safety and training programs for employees, and created mining technology that helped revolutionize underground mining — Robert Murray also brought national political figures to the region. He has hosted President Donald Trump on several occasions for events in Wheeling, and brought politicians such as Rick Perry and John Boehner to the area for fundraisers.
Most recently, Murray filed for federal black lung benefits. He said he was diagnosed in July 2016 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
During his career, Murray also served as president of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration; the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute; the National Mining Association and others.