Patriot Coal to idle Logan County mine - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Patriot Coal to idle Logan County mine

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Patriot Coal Corp. will idle its Logan County complex near Man, reducing thermal coal production by about two million tons annually, leading to a net loss of about 200 jobs.

The company gave the 60-day WARN notice on Sept. 10 and said about 250 employees will be affected. The operations expected to be idled include the Guyan surface mine and the Fanco preparation plant and rail loadout.

The company said efforts are being made to place employees into open positions at other Patriot subsidiary operations, and perhaps 50 employees will be offered jobs at those locations.

"This is an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot's production with expected sales," said Patriot President and CEO Bennett K. Hatfield said in a news release.

"Despite the substantial progress being made in the Patriot reorganization, we still have to contend with the industry-wide challenge of coal prices that have fallen well below production costs at many Central Appalachian mines.  Thermal coal markets are extremely weak due to low natural gas prices and costly regulatory changes that have reduced coal-fueled electricity generation capacity."

Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, issued the following statement after the Patriot announcement:

"Today's announcement by Patriot is very disappointing, though not unexpected. The company had already announced its intention to close this complex in the near term, however the continued depression in the coal market led to this action being taken sooner.

"There will be jobs available for some of our members at the Hobet mine in Boone County, others are eligible for retirement and will choose that route. 

"This makes it even more important that we continue our fight to secure the long-term retirement health care benefits our members have earned. This is a former Arch Coal mine, and Arch made the promise of retiree health care to these miners and their spouses. We will continue to work in Congress, argue in court, and march in the streets until our struggle for fairness and justice is won, and we have a long-term funding solution for their benefits."