An Alpha spokesperson said that the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices were distributed May 22 to affected workers at Rockspring Development’s Camp Creek underground mine and processing plant.
The company cited its assessment of current market conditions for the decision to idle. No information was released on ramp-down plans.
The confirmation of the Rockspring move comes just one week after several dozen other furloughs were announced at additional Alpha mines. Also related to the weak market as well as regulatory obstacles, these included Enterprise Mining’s EMC No. 9 underground mine in Knott County, Kentucky, with 71, and the Roxana prep plant in Letcher County, Kentucky, which will reduce payroll by 17.
Additionally, Knox Creek Coal’s Tiller No. 1 underground mine in Tazewell County, Virginia, has eliminated 35 positions, and Mill Branch Coal’s Dorchester and North Fork underground mines in Wise County, Virginia and Letcher County, Kentucky, respectively, let 19 workers go.
“These actions are being triggered by persistent weakness in U.S. and overseas coal demand and depressed price levels, along with government regulations that are causing electric utilities to close existing coal-fired power plants and forego construction of new coal-fired capacity. Excess supply of coal worldwide also has contributed to sustained price weakness,” the company said.
Chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield commented on the timing of the layoffs. “This is an unprecedented time in the coal industry and Alpha continues to take difficult but necessary actions to ensure that our production is aligned with the reduced market demand we see today and anticipate in the future. These actions are consistent with steps we have taken in the past to build a smaller but more sustainable portfolio of mining assets across our operational footprint.”
Alpha Executive Vice President of Mining Operations Keith Hainer said that the producer will continue to look at current and future demand, noting that the furlough action was a tied to that examination of production and expenses.
“We are working to maintain flexibility and our coal-producing affiliates are rationalizing their operations and cost structure to manage effectively through these challenged markets,” Hainer said. “These are hard decisions because they affect good people, but these changes are necessary to help address the challenges that Alpha is facing.”