Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) said Tuesday the Still House Branch Mine at Cumberland will close leaving 40 miners without jobs and 40 additional miners being reassigned to other company mines located nearby.
“We have 12 or 13 more people left at the mine doing clean-up work,” said ANR Manager of External Communications Rick Nida. “The closing of this mine was all part of what we announced in September reporting we would be closing some of our mines. This is just part of that.”
Nida said the 40 miners reassigned will be working at Alpha’s Cloverlick Mines #1 and #3 and Northfork #5 and #6. He said the Cloverlick mines are located in Harlan County and the Northfork mines are located in nearby Letcher County.
Alpha has already closed mining operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
When asked if there are plans to close more of their Harlan County mining operations, Nida said there are “no announcements at this time.”
“We’ll make announcements as we need to,” said Nida. “This all depends upon the market conditions. As everyone probably knows the thermal coal market has been reduced because of the number of coal-fired plants closed or announced that they will be closing. There’s competition with natural gas — with gas prices being so low — and there’s regulations that make it harder to mine. All of those issues kind of clash to make it to a point where we have to rationalize these higher cost thermal coal mines.”
Calling it “a difficult time” to take this type of action, Nida said the shutdowns and layoffs are a necessary part of ensuring Alpha survives in what has become a difficult U.S. market.
“It’s always difficult, but we have to be sure we’ve got a market for our products,” said Nida. “Right now, it’s a real difficult market place.”
Alpha is the nation’s largest supplier of metallurgical coal used in the steel-making process and a major supplier of thermal coal to electric utilities and manufacturing industries
In June 2011, Alpha acquired Massey Energy Company to become America’s third-largest coal company and the fifth-largest coal producer in the world. With the new acquisition, Alpha assets included more than 150 mines, 40 coal preparation facilities and one of the world’s largest and highest-quality metallurgical coal reserve bases.
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