Alpha Natural Resources notified employees at four West Virginia mines of layoffs and production cutbacks Wednesday, with a net job loss of about 100.
Two mines in Logan County – Hatfield and Superior – will close, along with the Stirrat preparation plant, said Ted Pile, vice president of communications for Alpha.
"Fortunately, we are able to offer reassignment opportunities to 65 of them, so about 30 people will lose their jobs," Pile said.
Alpha is also scaling back production at the Republic surface mine in Fayette County, with a net loss of 11 jobs. The Black Castle surface mine in Boone County near Seth is also reducing operations along with an affiliated company known as Trace Transport. Alpha is cutting 59 jobs in Boone County, but 12 people will be offered transfers, Pile said.
"It's all thermal coal, and all due to the thermal coal market," Pile said.
In a letter announcing the cuts, Alpha President Paul Vining blamed continued weakness in the domestic and international steam coal markets.
"This is always hard — hard on the affected miners, hard on their families, hard on morale," he said. "We sough other options to maintain these jobs, but because of the severity of the market decline for their coal, there was no other options for these properties."
Following is the text of the letter from Paul Vining, president of Alpha Natural Resources, to Alpha employees on Wednesday:
Alpha Natural Resources gave notice today that it will close two mines and a coal preparation plant in the Omar area of Logan County.
The company will close Hatfield Energy underground mine, the Superior Surface Mine and a nearby coal prep plant.
Morning work crew members were notified of the closures this morning, according to Jim Winkler, president of the Logan Coal Venders Association. He spoke this morning with some of the miners who were laid off.
The Hatfield mine is a metallurgical coal mine that has been in operation for seven to eight years, according to a representative of the land owner.
The Superior mine is a steam coal mine that had been closed for three years and just reopened at the beginning of this year, the representative said.
The coal prep plant has been closed for a few months, according to the representative.
The number of layoffs and transfers was not released.
Alpha officials could not be reached for comment late this morning.
We will bring you more information when it becomes available.