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UPDATE: James River Coal Idling More Eastern Ky. Mines

By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 11/7/13 @1:30 p.m.
RICHMOND, Va. (WSAZ/ AP) - James River Coal says it is idling four more mines in eastern Kentucky due to the weak coal market

The latest furloughs will impact 200 employees and contractors at the Buckeye complex in Knott and Perry counties.

“We are hopeful these idlings can be reversed in the first half of 2014. The coal markets have stabilized during the past several weeks. Prices are still very low, but they are finally moving in a better direction,” said Chairman and CEO Paul Socha.

In the first nine months this year, the complex produced one million tons of coal.

In September, James River shut down production at several other mines in eastern Kentucky, laying off 525 full-time employees.

Those operations were the McCoy Elkhorn mines and prep plant in Pike and Floyd counties, the Bledsoe mines and prep plants in Leslie and Harlan counties and the Long Branch Surface mine in London, Ky.

Back in March, James River Coal announced it was closing mines and reducing coal production by three million tons at operations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana.

At that time, the company idled five underground mines ( Abner Branch, Mine 16, Mine 6A, Mine 31,and Jellico), two preparation plants (BL1 Plant and Burke, and one load-out facility(Sunny Knot). It also has reduced production at three surface mines (Frasure, Buckeye, and Montgomery Creek).

Those moves impacted about 400 employees and contractors.

According to Thursday’s news release, the company says its loss widened in the third quarter to $25.5 million, or 73 cents per share, from $20.6 million or 59 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue fell 48 percent to $150.2 million.



UPDATE 9/17/13 @ 5 a.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- James River Coal Company announced Monday it has furloughed approximately 525 full time coal workers and is idling production at three operations in eastern Kentucky. This is the second major layoff by the company in six months.

According to new release from the company, the operations are the McCoy Elkhorn mines and prep plant in Pike and Floyd Counties, the Bledsoe mines and prep plants in Leslie and Harlan Counties and the Long Branch Surface mine in London, Ky.

The company says the layoffs are due to weak domestic and international coal markets. At this time they do not have a date when operations could be restarted.

Our sister station, WYMT, says a letter given to them by a furloughed miner at a Bledsoe mine, says employees will keep their benefits for up to three months

Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association reacted to the news of more layoffs in the coal fields.

"It's important for people to remember for everyone one direct job lost we lose at least three other jobs that are dependent on that coal miner for their livelihood, so this is a very very serious economic time for Eastern Kentucky. There's really nowhere else in the country that has felt the kind of loss in production and employment like we've seen in Eastern Kentucky," said Bissett.

Back in March, James River Coal announced it was closing mines and reducing coal production by 3 million tons at operations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana.

The company idled five underground mines ( Abner Branch, Mine 16, Mine 6A, Mine 31,and Jellico), two preparation plants (BL1 Plant and Burke, and one load-out facility(Sunny Knot). It also has reduced production at three surface mines (Frasure, Buckeye, and Montgomery Creek).

The moves impacted about 400 employees and contractors.

James River mines thermal coal used for power plants and metallurgical coal used to make steel.



ORIGIANL STORY 3/7/13
RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WSAZ) -- A coal company with operations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana announced Thursday it is closing mines and reducing coal production by 3 million tons.

Richmond-based, James River Coal says it has idled five underground mines ( Abner Branch, Mine 16, Mine 6A, Mine 31,and Jellico), two preparation plants (BL1 Plant and Burke, and one load-out facility(Sunny Knot). It also has reduced production at three surface mines (Frasure, Buckeye, and Montgomery Creek).

The company says the moves impact about 400 employees and contractors.

James River mines thermal coal used for power plants and metallurgical coal used to make steel.

"We are adjusting to the changing market conditions throughout our organization. Many of these decisions have been difficult but necessary," CEO Peter Socha said in a news release. "Our mine operations are in better shape today than at any time in the past 10 years."

The company said that its fourth-quarter net loss more than doubled to $76.9 million and revenue fell more than 35 percent to $232.2 million.

Coal producers are being hit by a double whammy of weak demand. Utilities need less coal to produce electricity because of mild weather and lower power generation, while construction overseas has slowed the appetite for coal to make steel.

"The year 2012 will be remembered as one of the most difficult years in the history of the U.S. coal industry," Socha said.

While markets are "showing some marginal improvement" in 2013, Socha said that conditions remain weak.

"We are cautiously optimistic that our changed operating model and improving markets for several of our products will lead to a brighter future in 2013," he said.


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