Coal company Alpha Natural Resources is shuttering eight mines – including one Pennsylvania operation – and laying off more than 1,000 people.
The company framed the news as a “strategic re-positioning plan,” and says the move will save $150 million, and its annual coal production by 16 million tons.
Cheap, plentiful domestic natural gas has put the coal industry on the ropes in recent years, and tighter federal regulations have added to production costs. Alpha’s announcement comes less than two months after another major coal producer, PBS, laid off a quarter of its workforce.
With domestic demand shrinking, coal producers are shifting their focus to overseas markets like China.
The AP has more on Alpha’s announcement:
The mine shutdowns start Tuesday, while the rest of the layoffs will be completed by the end of the first quarter after Alpha fulfills current sales obligations, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield said. In all, the layoffs amount to nearly a tenth of Alpha’s 13,000-person work force.
Alpha said it is closing four mines in West Virginia, three in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. They are a mix of deep and surface mines. All the mines being closed are non-union operations.
Alpha didn’t immediately name the mines because they wanted to inform all the workers first.
Though some miners will stay on to seal the operations, most will either be reassigned or laid off immediately.