Citing unidentified sources, the Wall Street Journal reported late May 21 that meetings at the locations were scheduled for Friday, following a 12-hour meeting Wednesday with operations management. The losses, if the figure of 1,800 is confirmed, equate to about 21% of MEC’s total workforce.
The layoffs are expected to be primarily in West Virginia and Ohio. A company spokesman declined to comment on the specific locations and furlough figures until all of the personnel meetings at all locations were complete.
Local media in southeastern Ohio pointed to Monongalia County Coal and the Century operation as just two of the affected complexes, the former of which already saw a temporary idle earlier this year and the latter of which had a previous, smaller furlough.
Murray, the 75-year-old owner of Murray Energy, recently told the WSJ in a personal interview that he hoped to be “the last man standing in the coal industry.” For the time being, he is not alone in his announcements; earlier this week Alabama-based Walter Energy warned it may slice 370 from its payroll for the same reason, declining market conditions.
It is not known if the worker cuts will be permanent or temporary, though some regional Ohio Valley media have called them indefinite.
Murray’s cuts come just six months after MEC picked up multiple Appalachian mines and facilities from CONSOL Energy late last year. All told, according to WSJ estimates, the coal magnate has taken on more than $4 billion in debt for acquisitions, which appears to include MEC’s recent $1.4 billion interest deal with Illinois Basin producer Foresight Energy.
Story developing. More details are expected after 5 p.m. Eastern time May 22.