Alpha announces 11 possible mine closures, more than 1,000 layof - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Alpha announces 11 possible mine closures, more than 1,000 layoffs in WV

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  • Many WV coal counties losing revenue

    Many WV coal counties losing revenue

    Monday, August 8 2016 10:15 AM EDT2016-08-08 14:15:05 GMT

    As Appalachian coal production continues its drastic decline, West Virginia’s coal-producing counties are  not only losing people as lifelong residents are forced to flee their homes in order to find work, but in many cases, they’re also relinquishing millions of dollars from their budgets.

    As Appalachian coal production continues its drastic decline, West Virginia’s coal-producing counties are  not only losing people as lifelong residents are forced to flee their homes in order to find work, but in many cases, they’re also relinquishing millions of dollars from their budgets.

Alpha Natural Resources announced July 31st  that 11 affiliated coal mines and other facilities in West Virginia could be idled by mid-October, with the potential for 1,100 workers to be laid off. 

In part, the downsize can be attributed to the excess supply of coal worldwide, which has been a major factor in a persistent weakness in depressed price levels as well as the U.S. and overseas coal demand, the company stated in the announcement. Alpha also is placing partial blame on government regulations causing electric utilities to close coal-fired power plants.

The mines affected by the reductions include: Black Castle Mining’s surface mine and Independence Coal’s Twilight surface mine in Boone County; Alex Energy’s Edwight surface mine and Energy’s Republic and Workman Creek surface mines in Raleigh County; Pioneer Fuel’s Ewing Fork #1 surface mine in Kanawha and Fayette counties; and Highland Mining’s Superior, Reylas, Freeze Fork and Trace Fork surface mines in Logan County and the North surface mine in Mingo and Logan counties.

“Many mines in the region have done a great job finding ways to reduce costs and remain economically viable in this unprecedented business climate, but some Central Appalachia mines haven’t been able to keep up with the fast pace at which coal demand has eroded and prices have fallen,” Alpha’s President Paul Vining said in a statement. “Altogether we’ve idled about 35 million tons of coal production in just three years, primarily operations with the highest cash costs.”

“Our company has faced challenges in the last several years, but this is the most difficult part of the job,” Vining added. “Coal miners are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people in America. This country would not be where it is today without them. As difficult as these decisions have been, they’re essential for our organization in a business environment that’s undergone an enormous and fundamental transformation.”

Following the announcement, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released a statement regarding the closures, calling the potential for layoffs and mine closures “heartbreaking and frustrating,” and highlighting the Environmental Protection Agency’s potential role in the matter.

“We recognize market trends can play a part in these potential closures; however these actions also show the real-world impact of the regulatory environment in which industry must operate,” he said. “Today's announcement, in part related to power plant closures as a result of past EPA regulations, is why we remain concerned about the EPA's current proposals regarding CO2.

“For years, we have tried to warn the EPA of the consequences of its irresponsible mandates and today, our fears have unfortunately become our reality. I again urge the EPA to reconsider its proposed plan and realize the real impact these new rules have on West Virginia miners, their families and our communities,” he added.
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