Poor metallurgical coal market causes Cumberland River mining co - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Poor metallurgical coal market causes Cumberland River mining complex to close

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Arch Coal announced July 21 that it will be idling its Cumberland River Coal Company Complex in Appalachia, Virginia due to poor metallurgical coal markets, eventually eliminating 213 full-time positions.

Arch operates seven other mining complexes in Appalachia, including five in West Virginia: Sentinel in Philippi, Mountain Laurel in Sharples, Leer Mining Complex in Grafton, Coal-Mac in Holden and the Beckley Complex in Eccles.

"With this move, we are actively responding to currently challenged metallurgical coal markets while striving to enhance our overall competitive cost position in Appalachia," said John W. Eaves, Arch's president and chief executive officer. "Our strategy is to increasingly shift our portfolio toward higher-margin, lower-cost metallurgical coal operations, while retaining our valuable reserves for when market conditions strengthen in the future. We will continue to serve our customers here and abroad with the high level of quality they have come to expect from Arch."

The company is taking steps to provide job opportunities to those who will be losing their Cumberland River positions at other Arch subsidiaries where available.

"We deeply regret the need to take this action," said Eaves. "We thank the men and women at Cumberland River for their dedication, hard work and strong commitment to operating in a safe and responsible manner."

The Cumberland River Complex comprises two underground operations and related facilities, selling approximately 290,000 tons in the first half of 2014, which consisted primarily of higher-cost metallurgical grade coal. The decision to idle operations at Cumberland River will reduce Arch's annual 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by approximately 200,000 tons.