Mine layoffs, other coalfield woes mounting

An editorial from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — It has been another difficult two weeks for the region’s embattled coal industry. About 575 coal miners at Cliff Natural Resources Pinnacle Mine could be impacted by a WARN, or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act issued by the company last week in advance of a possible idling of the Wyoming County-based mine in late August.

The company is attributing persistent depressed pricing and over supply in the metallurgic coal market over the past year as a reason for the possible idling of the mine. Cliff spokesman Ryan Thorn says the company’s senior leadership team will closely monitor industry and business conditions over the next 60 days. If conditions do not improve during the two-month period, the mine would then be idled on Aug. 25.

But the bad news wasn’t limited just to the coalfields of southern West Virginia. Alpha Natural Resources also announced last week that it has idled its Cherokee Mine in Dickenson County in Southwest Virginia. An Alpha spokesman said the mine has about 115 employees. Of that number, about 50 will remain and work toward removing equipment and infrastructure at the mine through at least September. But the remainder of the work force — about 65 people — already have been sent home and will receive 60 days of pay until their official layoff date.

Some long-time miners in our region say they are optimistic that the coal market will rebound over the next couple of months…

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