Alpha Natural Resources to Cut More Than 800 Jobs from WV Mining Operations

Alpha Natural Resources released plans Jan. 25 to idle 10 mining facilities, cutting a total of 886 jobs in southern West Virginia.

The bankrupt coal producer issued the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices to three of its subsidiary companies, Marfork Coal Co., Elk Run Coal Co. and Maxxim Shared Services, on Monday, Jan. 25.

According to the notices, the companies will idle five mines and one processing facility in their entirety. Alpha anticipates 468 Marfork employees, 363 Elk Run workers and 55 employees with Maxxim will permanently lose their jobs on March 25, or within two weeks afterward.

The affected Marfork operations include the Brushy Eagle Mine, the Slip Ridge Cedar Grove Mine, the Horse Creek Eagle Mine, the Allen Powellton Mine, the Coon Cedar Grove Mine and the Marfork Processing facility, which are all located in the neighboring Boone and Raleigh county communities of Whitesville and Naoma.

Elk Run's Roundbottom Powellton Deep Mine, Hunter Peerless Mine, Seng Creek Powellton Mine and Chess Processing facility, which are all located in either Sylvester or Whitesville in Boone County, will also be affected by the notice.

Maxxim employs mine support personnel, such as lab workers, safety representatives and maintenance staff, at operations for both Marfork and Elk Run.

The company attributed the cuts to unsustainably low coal prices, which have been caused by an oversupply of coal in the market place combined with dramatically reduced demand.

Alpha, headquartered in Bristol, Virginia, cut 138 positions, including 72 jobs from its Seng Creek and Roundbottom mines as well as 66 positions from two different Marfork mines, only about a month ago.

“President Obama is keeping his promise to bankrupt coal, and the consequences have been absolutely devastating for the thousands of West Virginians left wondering how to make ends meet," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in response to the announcement. "This is why I introduced legislation to block the harmful Clean Power Plan and voted to fund research at West Virginia institutions to make coal energy production cleaner and more efficient."

Capito also said the layoffs serve as a reminder for the state's need to create new job training programs and drive economic development in the state.

“I will continue pushing back against these destructive regulations and fighting to protect West Virginia's vital energy jobs," Capito added. "At the same time, we must also pursue new avenues to spur economic development and advance rural broadband."

The company is also seeking to sell 23 mining complexes, which include a total of 14 actives mines and 20 mines that are closed, in the process of closing or on “reserve” status, in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Illinois through chapter 11 bankruptcy.

By:  Sarah Tincher
Source: The State Journal