CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Citing weak prices for steel-making coal, Alpha Natural Resources confirmed Friday that it plans to idle a Boone County underground mine that's had a history of safety problems.
About 160 workers will be affected by the closure of Alpha subsidiary Independence Coal's Justice No. 1 Mine near Uneeda and a related cutback of operations at the nearby Liberty Processing Plant.
Samantha Davison, a spokeswoman for Bristol, Va.-based Alpha, said that company officials will be meeting with miners next week to discuss pay and benefits for those impacted.
"With that said, there will be opportunities for some of the employees within the Alpha organization," Davison said in an email message.
Davison said Alpha was making the move to idle the Justice Mine "in an effort to continue to adapt to the challenging conditions in the coal market."
"Demand and price for the type of coal mined at Justice is very weak," she said.
Like other Appalachian operators, Alpha has touted a new focus on metallurgical coal -- which is used to make steel -- as the answer to the declining use of coal for power generation.