CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Alpha Natural Resources has announced they are extending a WARN notice for several mines in the area.
The company originally announced layoffs that were supposed to start on September 29 at a number of facilities.
Friday, the company sent a letter to commissioners in Kanawha, Fayette and Raleigh counties, announcing some changes.
At the Workman Creek Surface mine in Clear Creek, and the Republic Energy surface mine in Eskdale, workers will now stay on the job until November 26, or within a two-week period after that.
The idling of the Ewing Fork No. 1 Mine in Pax will still occur on September 29, or within two weeks, and the majority of the positions will be terminated. However, the company says that they will be extending the termination date for a small group of employees until November 26, or within a two-week period after that.
Company officials say they will need their services for longer than they initially anticipated to operate the Hopkins Loadout and complete work relating to the idling and/or reclamation of the mine.
The company says despite the extensions, employment terminations will be permanent and there will be no bumping rights.
Kanawha County Commission President, Kent Carper stated, “today’s news that the surface mine will remain open for an additional two months will provide some relief for the employees who are ultimately faced with losing their employment once the mine completely shuts down. Layoffs of this type have a huge effect on the lives of the employees, their families and the communities they live in. These types of layoffs simply cannot continue.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement today about Alpha Natural Resources' updated WARN Notification announcement: "Our Office remains committed to fighting for coal miners, their jobs, and their families. While today's announcement from Alpha Natural Resources was better news than we received in July, it is still disappointing to know there are more than 200 coal miners who will lose their jobs. We will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to prevent more hardworking West Virginians from becoming a casualty of the Obama administration's aggressive EPA."
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today issued a statement following an announcement from Alpha Natural Resources that the company has notified employees of the idling of three coal mines and the extension of operations at eight mines.
"Today's announcement is devastating news for more than 250 West Virginia families, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. We stand ready to offer training and transition assistance to the affected miners and their families. At the same time, the extension of notices for eight potentially affected mines does create some cause for optimism. We hope these notices serve as an indication the market may improve with national and world economic growth. In order for West Virginia coal to remain a world-class source of affordable energy, we must continue our efforts against the federal regulations that devastate our state, our communities and our families by forcing power plants in America and around the world to use a less attractive fuel source."
Thursday the company announced 1,100 workers could be laid off by mid-October, if they have to idle the mines.
The company is citing weak market conditions and government regulations that have challenged the entire Central Appalachian mining industry.
Company officials say mines receiving Thursday's WARN notifications produced 4.2 million tons of thermal and metallurgical coal through the first half of this year.
The possible impacted mines include:
Highland Mining’s Superior, Reylas, Freeze Fork and Trace Fork surface mines in Logan County and the North surface mine in Mingo and Logan Counties
Black Castle Mining’s surface mine in Boone County
Independence Coal’s Twilight surface mine in Boone County
Alex Energy’s Edwight surface mine in Raleigh County
Republic Energy’s Republic and Workman Creek surface mines in Raleigh County
Pioneer Fuel’s Ewing Fork #1 surface mine in Kanawha and Fayette Counties
Additional technical and other support services for these mine operations
Alpha’s President Paul Vining said, “Many mines in the region have done a great job finding ways to reduce costs and remain economically viable in this unprecedented business climate, but some Central Appalachia mines haven’t been able to keep up with the fast pace at which coal demand has eroded and prices have fallen. So, our operations managers have to take a hard and serious examination whether they can sustain a number of mines and related operations by finding additional cost reductions and whether the business will be there to support them in the year ahead."
“Our company has faced challenges in the last several years, but this is the most difficult part of the job. Coal miners are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people in America. This country would not be where it is today without them. As difficult as these decisions have been, they’re essential for our organization in a business environment that’s undergone an enormous and fundamental transformation.”
Late Thursday afternoon, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released a statement saying, "The potential for layoffs and mine closures are heartbreaking and frustrating for our miners, their families and the communities in which they live. They depend on these jobs to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. My administration will closely monitor the situation and we stand ready to provide whatever assistance our miners and their families may need during this difficult time."
He went on to say, "We recognize market trends can play a part in these potential closures; however these actions also show the real-world impact of the regulatory environment in which industry must operate. Today’s announcement, in part related to power plant closures as a result of past EPA regulations, is why we remain concerned about the EPA’s current proposals regarding CO2."
"For years, we have tried to warn the EPA of the consequences of its irresponsible mandates and today, our fears have unfortunately become our reality. I again urge the EPA to reconsider its proposed plan and realize the real impact these new rules have on West Virginia miners, their families and our communities," Tomblin said.
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An Alpha news release says the company notified employees Thursday afternoon that it expects to idle mines and related facilities.
Alpha says the mines produce about 75 percent thermal coal for power generation, and 25 percent metallurgical coal for steel production.
The company cited weak domestic and international coal markets and federal limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
In the past three years, the Bristol, Virginia-based company says it has laid off 4,000 employees and idled 60 mines and 35 million tons of production.
Alpha is one of the country's biggest coal suppliers. It also has mines in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.