Coalgood Energy Coal Company has officially closed, leaving approximately 25 more people unemployed.
Alpha Natural Resources Manager of External Operations Rick Nida said the closing was due primarily to market conditions for thermal coal in the United States.
“The property is in reclamation right now and they are about to finish up,” said Nida. “The property is being returned to its approximate original condition or for whatever use the permit said the final use would be after the mine has been completed and reclaimed. You have to return the land for that use.”
Alpha Natural Resources also owns Black Mountain Resources, which is located in Benham. Nida said there are no announcements, at this time, in regard to layoffs or closure of that mine.
“The coal markets are in transition right now, especially the thermal coal markets where coal-fired generation plants are closed or planning to close,” said Nida. “This has reduced the demand for that particular product — coal.”
Nida listed three things he feels is now causing the down spiral of coal in Harlan County and throughout the United States.
“One is the low price of natural gas,” said Nida. “There has been some fuel switching. If the price of natural gas goes back up then switching may go back in the other direction. Generally, the U.S. economy has been weak so the demand for electricity from businesses and consumers has been less. Should the U.S. economy improve, businesses bounce back and consumers begin to use more electricity, then demand may increase. The third issue is regulation on coal-fired generation plants, which will cause, some studies say, as much as 20 percent of the coal-fired coal generation plants to close in the next 10 years. That’s not likely to change. If those plants get shut down, then the demand for coal will be less.”
When asked if employees losing their jobs were being offered jobs at other locations, Nida said, “Throughout the system we’ve had some reductions in force and some employees have been reassigned. I don’t believe that is the case at Coalgood Energy.”
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