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Raleigh, Boone mine layoffs just latest in trend

BECKLEY, W.Va. — After announcing 138 additional layoffs at four mines in Raleigh and Boone counties late last week, an Alpha Natural Resources official said Monday that he could not “speculate if the (affected) jobs are coming back.”

One section in each of the mines, Marfork Coal Co.’s Slip Ridge and Ellis Eagle mines in Naoma and Elk Run’s Seng Creek and Round Bottom mines in Boone County, were shut down. The number of affected miners is 66 in Naoma and 72 in Boone.

 The announcement was the latest in the trend in the boom or bust industry. Bankrupt coal companies slashing payroll, closing mines or placing them up for sale is the new normal.

The Christmastime cuts were the result of the weak market for coal, the company said. Dwindling exports, increase environmental regulations and power plants switching from coal to natural gas, a cleaner, cheaper power source, have crushed the industry.

Alpha has been hit hard by coal’s tailspin. However, in bankruptcy court filings, the Bristol, Va.-based company also cited its $7.1 billion purchase of Massey Energy in 2011…


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