In its Friday announcement, Alpha said it would idle four mines in West Virginia and Kentucky immediately and two others between now and 2013. Several other mines will alter work schedules or reduce the number of production crews. The news release did not identify the specific mines.
Alpha spokesman Ted Pile said the West Virginia mines being idled include the No. 2 Gas Mine in Kanawha County and the Randolph Mine in Boone County, both underground operations. Work hours will be reduced at the Black Castle surface mine in Boone County, the Camp Branch surface mine in Logan County, and the Progress/Twilight surface mine in Boone County. The Alloy Powellton Mine in Fayette County is eliminating one underground section.
"These moves altogether will displace about 320 people over the next few weeks," Pile said. "The number would have been higher, but we were fortunate, being a larger company, to have other positions available for miners to fill, so all told, 234 people have been given a job opportunity elsewhere in our mine network."
When completed, what Alpha called "adjustments" will reduce annual coal production by about 4 million tons, including 2.5 million tons of thermal coal for power plants and 1.5 million tons of steel-making coal.
When it released its quarterly earnings statement on Thursday, Patriot Coal said it would idle the Big Mountain operation near Prenter, which had produced 1.8 million tons of thermal coal in 2011.
Patriot CEO Richard Whiting said in a statement that the action was taken "given our view that the domestic thermal coal market is likely to remain depressed for an extended period."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.