UPDATE 9/11/13 @ 6:45 p.m.
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds of jobs will soon be gone in Logan County, as plans move forward to idle another mine.
Patriot Coal has given about 250 workers at the Guyan surface mine and the Fanco prep plant a 60-day notice.
“He was sort of shocked, because he thought they were going to downsize instead of shut down,” Karen Couch said about her husband, Alvin, who drives a truck at the mine.
But that's exactly what's happening. Now, Alvin and about 250 others are losing their jobs.
"This is an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot's production with expected sales,” Patriot Coal CEO, Bennett K. Hatfield, said. “We still have to contend with the industry-wide challenge of coal prices that have fallen well below production costs at many central Appalachian mines."
Patriot will offer jobs to about 50 workers at other operations, while others like Alvin, will go ahead and retire.
“One door closes. Another opens. God will get us there,” Karen Couch said.
Karen's husband will retire a year early. While not an ideal situation, she says it's the younger miners and their families she's concerned about.
“I don't know what they're going to do. Maybe have to leave the state to find something," she said.
Because if there’s one thing she knows about the future of coal: it’s anything but clear.
St. Louis-based Patriot says in a news release that it gave the workers a 60-day notice on Tuesday. The company expects to offer jobs at other operations to about 50 workers.
This is an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot's production with expected sales," said Patriot President and Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield. "Despite the substantial progress being made in the Patriot reorganization, we still have to contend with the industry-wide challenge of coal prices that have fallen well below production costs at many Central Appalachian mines."
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts says Patriot's decision is disappointing but not unexpected.
“The company had already announced its intention to close this complex in the near term, however the continued depression in the coal market led to this action being taken sooner, Roberts said. “There will be jobs available for some of our members at the Hobet mine in Boone County, others are eligible for retirement and will choose that route.
Patriot President and CEO Bennett K. Hatfield attributes the decision to a decline in prices for thermal coal used to generate electricity.
The complex near Man includes the Guyan surface mine and the Fanco preparation plant and rail loadout.
“This makes it even more important that we continue our fight to secure the long-term retirement health care benefits our members have earned," Roberts said. "This is a former Arch Coal mine, and Arch made the promise of retiree health care to these miners and their spouses. We will continue to work in Congress, argue in court, and march in the streets until our struggle for fairness and justice is won, and we have a long-term funding solution for their benefits.”