Alpha Natural Resources Announces 1,100 Possible Layoffs at W.Va. Mines

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 7/31/14 @ 5:17 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Alpha Natural Resources has released a list of mining operations that could be impacted by layoffs later this year.

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.

Keep clicking on for the latest on this story.

ORIGINAL STORY 7/31/14 @ 5:07 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Alpha Natural Resources expects to lay off 1,100 workers at 11 West Virginia surface coal mines by mid-October, with the company citing dismal markets and federal regulation.

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.

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