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Consol idles Robinson's Run; 250 out of work

MORGANTOWN (AP) - About 250 miners were expected to be out of work after Consolidation Coal Co. idled a northern West Virginia mine at 12:01 a.m. today, union officials said.

The No. 95 Robinson's Run mine, near Mannington and the border of Harrison and Marion counties, will continue operating with just 30 to 40 workers per shift, said Rich Eddy, president of United Mine Workers union District 31.

The mine employs 387.

Workers got the bad news Monday morning when they found a note posted at the job site, Eddy said. It is unclear how long the mine will be shut down.

"We were told it will operate on a day-to-day basis," Eddy said. "But in this [manpower] situation, they're not going to produce coal."

Details are few because "they have not met with us and will not tell us anything," Eddy said. "Normally, that's how Consol does business. We don't agree with it and we don't appreciate it."

Consol headquarters in Pittsburgh was closed Monday and spokesman Tom Hoffman did not immediately return a telephone message.

Last month, Consol announced plans to lay off 550 workers at three mines in West Virginia and Virginia because of a mild winter and low energy prices.

That announcement covered about 70 workers at Humphrey No. 7 Mine near Maidsville and about 250 workers at Loveridge No. 22 Mine near Fairview, as well as 230 workers at Island Creek Coal Co.'s No. 8 Mine near Rowe, Va. Those layoffs are expected to last less than six months.

Eddy noted that two nonunion mines near Waynesburg, Pa., have not been affected.

"We as miners are very discouraged over the fact that we produce a tremendous amount of coal and break all kinds of tonnage records, and this is the thanks we get," he said.

On Friday, as District 31 gathered in a Fairmont park for a memorial service to dead miners, about 400 miners from other parts of the state rallied with UMW President Cecil Roberts in Charleston.

Roberts warned the nation's public policy is turning against the use of coal and could cost miners their jobs. Among other things, he said, the industry is threatened by an international clean-air treaty that could drastically reduce demand for coal.

In West Virginia, he said, mining jobs also are at risk in the debate over the technique known as mountaintop removal, which blasts away mountaintops to get at thin coal seams. The debris is put into nearby valleys, a practice that changes the landscape and enrages environmentalists.


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