UPDATE: Patriot Coal confirms 75 layoffs in Boone County - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Patriot Coal confirms 75 layoffs in Boone County

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UPDATE 5 p.m., June 25:

A total of 75 workers have been laid off two Patriot Coal mining complexes in Boone County, the company announced June 25.

The layoffs didn't come as a surprise, however, as Patriot issued a 60-day WARN notice on April 23 stating that at least 50 people would lose their jobs.

Of those who were laid off, 60 came from the Wells complex in Wharton and 15 had been employed at the Corridor G complex near Danville.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m., April 24:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced April 24 the approval in grant funding of over $5 million for displaced mine workers.

Tomblin said WorkForce West Virginia will receive supplemental funding in the amount of $ 5,639,376 in National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds from the U. S. Department of Labor to continue providing services to workers affected by layoffs and mine closures occurring within West Virginia's coal mining industry. Patriot Coal was not specifically named.

The supplemental funding is in addition to the $1.8 million allotted to serve displaced mine workers in 2012.

"Layoffs and mine closures are frustrating for our miners and their families - they depend on their jobs to keep food on the table and a roof overhead," Tomblin said. "This additional funding, combined with the original grant award, will allow us to provide re-employment services and job training opportunities to 700 mine workers.

"This additional funding extends the grant through December 31, 2016 and will allow continued reemployment and retraining services to coal miners impacted by mass layoffs and mine closures," said Russell L. Fry, acting executive director of WorkForce West Virginia.”

UPDATE 4 p.m., April 24:

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released the following statement after Patriot Coal issued WARN Act notices to mining complexes in Boone County and announced potential layoffs:

“Patriot Coal’s announcement to lay off at least 100 miners is terribly disappointing for not only the hardworking miners in Boone County, but also for the entire southern region of our great state, where thousands of individuals will be directly and indirectly impacted. By mining the coal that keeps our lights on, heats our homes and powers our businesses, our miners are critical to the security and economic prosperity of this nation. Without their hard work and sacrifice, we absolutely cannot sustain our way of life, especially in coal mining regions. That is why we need to fight for every single miner and mining job. For the miners and their families who will be affected by this most unfortunate decision, my staff and I stand ready to assist in any way possible. We will be working tirelessly to help these miners find jobs or retraining opportunities if the WARN Act notices come into effect.”


Original Story 8:30 a.m., April 23:

Patriot Coal issued notices of potential layoffs pursuant to the WARN Act at both its Wells mining complex near Wharton and its Corridor G mining complex near Danville.

According to Patriot, the Wells complex includes the Black Stallion Mine, CC10 Mine and Wells preparation plant, which employs 450 people and produced 1.4 million tons of metallurgical coal in 2013. The Corridor G complex includes the Hobet 21 Mine and Beth Station preparation plant employs 397 people and produced 2.3 million tons of thermal coal in 2013.

“These actions are an unfortunate but necessary step to align Patriot’s production with expected sales,” Patriot President and Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield said in a news release. “Both metallurgical and thermal coal markets continue to be challenging, with pricing levels well below production costs at many Central Appalachian Mines.

“Despite the savings we achieved in our reorganization, the production costs of these mines exceed today’s depressed prices, necessitating these actions.”

A Joint Plan of Reorganization of Patriot Coal Corporation and its subsidiaries was confirmed by an order of the Bankruptcy Court Dec. 17, 2013. Click HERE to read our previous coverage of the bankruptcy issue.

According to the company, mine management at both locations will evaluate operations and staffing during the next 60 days to assess the ability at both complexes to produce coal at a cost below projected sales prices.

“The scope of the anticipated downsizing will be communicated at the conclusion of that process,” the company’s news release states.

Patriot has 10 active mining complexes in Appalachia and the Illinois Basin.