The third shift at the mine in southwest Virginia will now be limited to maintenance activities. A spokesperson did not indicate the specific date when the 39 salaried and 149 hourly workers would officially be furloughed, though officials said notifications were made on May 2.
Buchanan’s longwall mine typically produces approximately 400,000 tons per month for the steelmaking industry; the operation shipped 1.1 million tons in the first quarter, 489,000 tons to China. CONSOL did not detail what its new production capacity would be.
While on the demand side, thermal coal demand has improved, met coal demand, particularly in Asia, has been slower to recover, officials said, and confirmed that the scheduling change was made to control inventories and align with metallurgical coal demand.
The company will continue to monitor market conditions and respond accordingly, CONSOL said in a statement.
“Earlier this year, we completed work on a $24 million hoist upgrade project to increase efficiency at our Buchanan mine,” Chief Operating Officer-Coal Division Jimmy Brock said. “The mine is well-positioned for a return to higher production levels when market demand and pricing rebound.”
The announcement makes good on a statement made by executives in the company’s first quarter earnings results reported last week, noting that CONSOL was prepared to exert continued production discipline as needed to align with current global met coal market conditions.