For years, Massey has worked to buy low-sulfur reserves that can comply with ever-tougher federal Clean Air Act standards. Even more stringent regulations will go into effect in 2000, which will increase the value of low-sulfur coal even further.
In West Virginia, the Twilight mining complex achieved full-scale production at about 4 million tons annually. It is the company's largest surface mine.
Massey also made two major purchases in the Mountain State last year, both in the Logan County region.
The Elkay property, purchased from Pittston Coal, added 30 million tons in coal reserves. That deal also included two long-term coal supply contracts with American Electric Power.
Massey also traded coal properties it owned in Pennsylvania for coal lands near Holden, near the border of Logan and Mingo counties. That coal has a lower sulfur content.
Massey achieved its ability to produce low-cost coal in part by removing the United Mine Workers from some of its operations and successfully fighting unionization at several other mining complexes.
The company, however, still has five separate labor agreements with the UMW. Last year, agreements were reached with all five, as contracts were about to expire. The annual report added that "a host of individual labor disputes were amicably resolved."
The company's two main coal offices are in Richmond, Va. and Charleston, W.Va.