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       St Louis based Peabody Energy is holding its annual shareholders meeting in Wyoming to highlight the importance of the coal-rich Powder River Basin.

     A delegation of more than a dozen retired and active mine workers from West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky and Florida are protesting.

    One group critical of the company, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, claims the company is trying to avoid hearing concerns in its hometown. 

    Meantime, thousands of protesting mine workers returned to St. Louis today as  hearings begin in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on demands by Peabody's Patriot Coal Company. Miners accuse Peabody of eliminating  health care for retired miners and for making cuts in pay, benefits and working conditions for current miners. 

     In a statement, Peabody Energy says "The union continues to grandstand when it knows that this matter will be decided in the courts. Patriot was highly successful following its launch more than five years ago with significant assets, low debt and a market value that more than quadrupled in less than a year.   Peabody has lived up to its obligations and continues to do so. This is a matter between the union and Patriot Coal, and will be decided in the bankruptcy court."

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