Gary Broadbent, assistant general counsel and spokesman for MEC, confirmed reports that have circulated for months in the region that the company’s American Coal Co. subsidiary was phasing out production at New Era, ostensibly to improve Galatia’s competitiveness.

“We have been transitioning our operations to New Future,” Broadbent said in an August email.

AmCoal purchased Galatia in 1998 from Kerr-McGee Corp. Kerr-McGee opened Galatia in the early 1980s near a small community of the same name in Saline County.

Broadbent did not indicate how coal output will be affected by the shift from New Era to New Future, or whether the latter will cease production altogether as has been rumored. New Era produced about 5.5 million tons in 2014, but has seen production decline this year. In the first two quarters of 2015, the mine produced about 1.5 million tons. New Future, meanwhile, produced 3.1 million tons of coal in the first half of 2015 and is on pace to surpass last year’s output of 5.7 million tons.